Driven to Ignorance?

June 9th, 2008 by Kathy McManus

Is there any excuse for not stopping to help an injured person?

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

Hit and Run: Without a Compass If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many are needed to describe the video of a man being struck by a hit-and-run driver and left to bleed unaided in the road, while numerous motorists and pedestrians casually maneuver around him and continue on their way?

Two, according to the blaring newspaper headline in Hartford, Connecticut, where the horrific incident took place: “SO INHUMANE”

At 5:45 on a recent Friday evening in plenty of remaining daylight, 78-year-old Angel Torres was crossing a street in a working-class Hartford neighborhood when he was struck by one of two cars driving recklessly across the center line.

The impact—caught on a streetlight surveillance camera--flipped Torres into the air, then sent him crashing to the pavement. As Torres lay in the road bloodied and paralyzed, the surveillance tape shows approximately nine motorists slowing to have a look at him, then driving away.

Other people are seen on the tape staring from the sidewalk or venturing into the street. Though it was later reported that several witnesses called 911, none of the gawkers halted traffic or aided the severely hurt Torres. Approximately a minute and a half after the impact, a police car arrived. Torres was taken to a hospital in critical condition, paralyzed from the neck down.

“We no longer have a moral compass,” said Hartford’s shocked and angry police chief, after releasing the surveillance tape in hopes of identifying the hit-and-run driver. But the tape—capturing the inaction of so many bystanders—also caught the attention of outraged Americans, who swamped blogs, message boards, radio shows and more, wrestling with the same inconceivable question: Why didn’t anyone give more help to Angel Torres?

Tell us what you think: Is there any acceptable reason not to have helped Angel Torres, or anyone else in a similar situation? Do you think the people seen on the tape have been misunderstood? What would you have done?