Wednesday, July 20, 2005

BOTTLE ROCKET TRAGEDY: WHOSE FAULT?

Last Thursday night, two 12-year-old cousins Garnet Willis and Jon Winterhawk were shooting bottle rockets at passing cars in Spanaway, WA, according to the Washington State Patrol.[1] The fireworks hit a passing Toyota Camry, prompting the car's occupants to stop and pursue their juvenile assailants. [1] In the course of the chase, one of the boys, 12-year-old Garnet Willis, tripped over the median curb, fell into the path of a passing car, and was killed.[1][2]

This case is a great tragedy. Nobody wants a child to lose his life, even knowing that it was the result of his own dangerous prank; but the tragedy is being compounded by the prosecution of the boys' victims. Grieving friends and family and well-intentioned supporters are trying to shift blame to the victims and some are crying for blood.[2] According to prosecutors, the men may be charged with second-degree manslaughter, even if they did not intend to cause the boy's death.[3]

"The boys knew it was wrong," admitted Carol Forgey, Willis' aunt and Winterhawk’s mother.[4]

"Kids will be kids..." said Washington State Patrol Trooper Johnny Alexander[4], indicating that their actions were intentional. Their prank may not have been intended to cause real harm, but that does not justify their behavior nor excuse them from their own fault... nor does it transfer the fault to their victims who chose to defend themselves.

The surviving boy himself admitted that the two men in the car were reacting in self-defense. "These guys thought we were trying to shoot them," said Jon Winterhawk, "so they got out of their car and we started running."[4]

Okay, let me make this perfectly clear. I feel sorry for the loved ones of the boy who was killed, but my sympathies cannot change the fact that the kids caused the accident with their own illegal activities. They assaulted the occupants of the car with a potentially-deadly device and now their victims have been arrested for their natural and completely-justified reactions.

It has been suggested that the men's criminal records somehow prove their malicious intent, but I don't see how their past records have bearing in this instance. The two boys admittedly initiated the events by assaulting the men in the vehicle, not vice versa. Who knows how many other vehicles they may have narrowly missed with their rockets? It just happened that the vehicle which they did hit was occupied by two men who knew how to defend themselves and were not going to sit still while they were attacked.

"I felt like this was cut and dry," said Carol Forgey, Winterhawk’s mother. "The accident happened because of those men chasing Garnet."[1][3] Of course, this is the natural reaction of a grieving relative, so I will pardon Ms. Forgey's faulty logic on the grounds of her grief. But cause-and-effect, by definition, requires that the effect follow the cause. The men were chasing the boys after the boys attacked them. Had the boys not shot a bottle rocket at their heads, the chase would not have occured. So, to correct the faulty statement, the cut and dry conclusion has to be that the accident happened because of those boys playing their dangerous prank.

This is yet another example of what's wrong with our legal system, where the criminals become the victims and the victims become the criminals. The kid did not deserve to die, but his death was the direct consequence of his own violent and criminal actions. And if liberal logic continues to twist the truth --especially in circles of power-- then I fear for the law-abiding, God-fearing American citizen who dares to defend himself from Joe-Criminal-with-an-ACLU-lawyer who chooses his home as his next target. God defend us, because apparently we're not allowed to defend ourselves.

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SOURCES:

[1] "Spanaway Boy Killed After Chase into Street", by Laurie Au, The News Tribune, Tacoma, WA, 07/20/05, http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/5025988p-4585288c.html
[2] "Charges On Hold In Deadly Spanaway Chase" by Keith Eldridge, Komo News, 07/18/05, http://www.komotv.com/stories/38041.htm
[3] "Charges Up in Air in Boy's Death" by Laurie Au of The News Tribune and Genoa Sibold-Cohn of The Herald, Mid-Columbia Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA, 07/19/05, http://www.tri-cityherald.com/tch/local/story/6724641p-6612172c.html
[4] "No Decision on Charges in Boy’s Death" by Laurie Au, The News Tribune, Tacoma, WA, 07/19/05, http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/5032649p-4590658c.html

4 Comments:

Blogger Kevin Lauer said...

This story is discussed at http://www.comebackalive.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=11343&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

CAUTION: This link contains language that may be considered offensive to some readers.

3:14 AM  
Blogger thiggy said...

Let's see, if I was driving down the road and thought I was being shot at, the first thing I'd do would be to slam on the gas and run for my life. As far as I know bullets don't sail through the air on a streak of sparks, unless of course you have a rocket launcher. Would I recognize the fact that I was beating the crap out of a twelve year old? Yes, I think I would. I happen to know that both boys did indeed look like kids. I also happen to know the neighborhood where it happened very well; and an extremely busy, congested street it is. Just imagine how terrified a boy must be to run out into traffic like that. Would I catch the boys and turn them over to their mother? Yes, I certainly would unless of course I was "spoiling" for a fight. And would these boys expect to be grounded or at the worst have a juvenile record? Oh yeah. I think they would. But since these boys "caused" this awful accident to happen, would I then flee the scene? Er...no, I certainly wouldn't.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Kevin Lauer said...

Thank you for your reply, Thiggy. I don't dispute that the boys would have been afraid of getting caught. The suicide bomber who was confronted by his would-be victims in London on 7/21 ran for his life as well, despite the fact that he had just tried to blow himself up a few moments earlier. There's no evidence that the man who chased the boy had intended to beat him when he caught him. For all we know, he intended to do exactly what you suggested: apprehend him and turn him over to the authorities. And it matters not to me that the weapon of choice was not a gun with bullets. Do you think it would be pleasant to be struck in the head by a bottle-rocket, particularly while you're driving a moving vehicle down what you yourself described as "an extremely busy, congested street?" Even with the bottle rocket missing the men, the distraction alone of an object "sail[ing] through the air on a streak of sparks" into their vehicle would be enough to cause a fatal accident in a busy street. I don't excuse the men for fleeing the scene any more than I excuse the boys for fleeing. The boys obviously feared getting caught. Reports indicated that the men who chased down the boys did not immediately flee the scene, but only after a mob began to emerge. As I commented earlier; the boys fled as a natural response to their fear, as did the men who found themselves in the midst of a mob. While the whole situation is tragic, to say the least, I still believe that the brunt of the fault belongs on the shoulders of the two boys who initiated the entire event with their violent prank. The fact that they were under age does not excuse their behavior. I'm sorry that it happened, but the facts remain unchanged.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Loversquarral said...

There actually was evidence that the 22 year old man who chased Garnet had
intended to inflict violence on him. Especially since Winterhawk was asaulted,
beaten to the ground. The two boys were not shooting bottle rockets at cars,
they were in fact shooting bottle rockets in a near by construction sight that
had been abandoned, when one of the rockets went astray. It is clearly evident
the difference between the sound of a gun shot an the whizzing subtle pop of a
bottle rocket. Besides if you believed you were being shot at why in hell would
you stop your car and chase after the gun men? These two men knew that the
sound was mearly a cheap and harmless bottle rocket, they are known gang
members, one of which has a prior record of robbing and asaulting juveniles with
a bb gun. So you tell me now that that 12 year old boy, with such a promissing
life ahead of him deserved what he got because two drug addicted gang members
were driving around looking for a fight and settles with two small boys.
Especially when the girl friends and white trash whores of the men repeatedly
drove through and vandalized the memorial sight of Garnet Willis. That is not of
self defence, but of hatred and evil, those men and the people who follow them
in hate will get what THEY deserve in the after life they will spend burning in
purgatory. While Garnet is in heaven as we speak playing football and waiting
for the day that him and his beloved mother and sister are reunited again.

6:04 AM  

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