ABC News in D.C. Calls Dead Pedestrians “Lazy”

Omar Rivas, killed in Silver Spring, earlier this month, was a maintenance worker and father. He sung in his church's choir. Photo:  Gofundme
Omar Rivas, killed in Silver Spring, earlier this month, was a maintenance worker and father. He sung in his church's choir. Photo: Gofundme

So many people are getting run over in the Washington, D.C. suburb of in Montgomery County that at least one news outlet has decided that the cause must be the victims themselves!

“7 pedestrians killed by vehicles in Mont. County since June 1, laziness a key factor,” reads the headline on Kevin Lewis’s story for WJLA, the ABC affiliate that reported this week on the seven dead pedestrians in the Maryland county since June.

“Lazy” wasn’t Lewis’s word, but the explanation offered by Capt. Tom Didone, of Montgomery County’s Traffic Division.

“They’re being lazy not getting to the crosswalk,” he told WJLA. “People are blindly walking across the street, not paying attention to these cars.”

Can you imagine? It’s like they walked right up to the car and ran themselves over.

So who are the people being publicly slandered shortly after their deaths? The story offered very few details on what happened before the driver killed the pedestrian, but Streetsblog was able to get some information about two of the victims:

Omar Rivas Cardenas, 51, was a maintenance worker who sang in his church’s choir. The driver who struck and killed him did not stop.

Edwin Diaz, 38, was hit while walking on the sidewalk and then dragged 25 feet under the car before the driver pulled over, WTOP reported. In that case, the driver may be charged criminally.

Montgomery County, Maryland, has a Vision Zero policy, meaning it hopes to end all traffic deaths. But the county is currently on track for an increase over last year. Meanwhile, here are the types of roads the county’s pedestrians are still contending with.

norbeck road

Julio Danery Rodriguez-Gonzalez, 34, was struck on this stretch Norbeck Road August 16th.

Now “jaywalking” — we should remind you — was a concept actually invented by car companies in order to shift blame for car violence in cities onto pedestrians. And clearly, it worked spectacularly. Indeed, under Maryland law, pedestrians must yield to drivers outside of crosswalks, which is contrary to many states.

But whether or not, strictly speaking, any of the victims were “jaywalking,” it doesn’t excuse their deaths. Nobody deserves to die because he or she steps outside of two stripes at some point in the journey. And it’s a cautionary tale about how the media typically covers crashes when the driver survives and the victim can’t speak for himself.

With safer, more narrow streets, more frequent crosswalks, better streetlights or any number of other interventions, the deaths of people like Edwin Diaz and Omar Rivas Cardenas might have been prevented.

  • SDGreg

    It looks like it was the reporter that was lazier than the people killed. There was no mention that one of the people killed was on a sidewalk. Was that person lazy because they didn’t magically get out of the way of an irresponsible driver?

    “Traffic statistics show pedestrians are at fault 80 percent of the time in fatal collisions involving vehicles. However, in non-fatal crashes, drivers are more likely to be responsible, 60 percent of the time to be precise.”

    Is that difference mostly because dead people can’t tell their side of the story? I would argue that drivers are responsible for 90+ percent of those crashes as it should be their responsibility to try to avoid hitting any objects in their path. If you’re driving too fast to do that, you’re driving too fast for the conditions.

  • SilvioRodriquez

    And, “responsibility” in those stats is legally defined, not morally.

  • KJ

    …just like all the ‘lazy’ mountain lions and deer killed in California, trying to get across the road. People will cross in places that make sense to them, so it would be prudent to create cross-walks in those places, rather than forcing people to walk and extra half+ mile out of their way.

  • KJ

    In the video above, it looks like the speed limit on the roads there is 40 mph there, as well. Too fast.

  • Aja

    MD counties are suburbs of whatever location in MD, not DC. There’s genuinely no justification for mentioning DC if the accidents didn’t occur there.

  • Old Town Outsider

    This is not very surprising from WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Washington DC. It is owned by right wing Sinclair Broadcasting, known for its biased reporting.

  • kollidoscopeas

    Accidentally killing someone with a gun = manslaughter.

    Accidentally killing someone with a car = almost illegal.

  • Lauren Bertrand

    In 2018, are there media conglomerates that are known for their unbiased reporting? None come to mind.

  • jcwconsult

    NHTSA data in many reports finds pedestrians making contributing errors in well over half the pedestrian fatalities.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • fdtutf

    And since as we all know, you support consequences for pedestrians’ mistakes but not for motorists’, I guess it’s OK with you that in many of these cases the pedestrian suffers the death penalty while the motorist gets off scot-free. It’s only fair.

  • jcwconsult

    Making comments that absolve the pedestrians from their mistakes is just utter nonsense. Safety demands responsible behavior from BOTH pedestrians and drivers – a principle that you don’t seem to support.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • Amerisod

    Montgomery County is mostly suburban Washington DC. They are served in large part by the same transit system. Tying a suburban area to the city it is a suburb of helps readers place it geographically.

  • Amerisod

    Reporting that is obsessed with crosswalks is lazy reporting. There are dangerous crosswalks that cross six lanes of high speed traffic with poor visibility. There are other areas that don’t happen to be in marked crosswalks that are much safer. Whether or not a person happens to be in a crosswalk often has little to do with safety.

    There should be more attention paid to the fact that there is very little speed limit enforcement in Montgomery County. Rampant speeding is a much bigger issue.

  • zero

    Look at this like the NTSB might look at an airline crash. What factors led to the event and how do we prevent those factors? Can we make changes to intersections, crosswalks, signage, placement, etc. to reduce pedestrian fatalities? Yes, Why aren’t we?

  • jcwconsult

    That is a proper question, Zero. There are many engineering changes that would reduce risks for pedestrians.

    There are also many pro-active actions pedestrians could take to reduce their own risks, things like wearing more visible clothing at night. That is a pro-active action similar to car drivers putting on seat belts for protection. But far too many groups want to say “the driver is always at fault”, a statement that simply is not true.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

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