Guns, Hummers and stereotypes
Two true (but very different) stories involving the controversially large military-style Hummer street vehicles:
1. Child killed by Hummer
Twelve-year-old Andy Li was riding his bike on the sidewalk in Kettering, Ohio when suddenly a blue Hummer pulled out of the Taco Bell parking lot and killed him.
It was just before 5 p.m. on Oct. 16, 2012. Andy was heading to help at his family's restaurant. According to witnesses, the boy was on his bike at the edge of the parking lot when the Hummer jumped the curb, ran over him and dragged him.
"He was sitting on his bike," said one eye witness, "(the female driver) pulled out of Taco Bell and hit him, and he was laying in the street with blood coming out of his nose and out of his mouth."
"He didn't have a chance to experience life," said the boy's aunt, Feiyan Zheng.
Kettering City Schools made counselors available to help fellow students cope with the death of their friend.
This tragic accident and other incidents involving Hummers have fueled the debate as to whether owning a Hummer is safe or necessary, or if Hummers should be outlawed or banned on city streets.
The non-profit organization Code Pink Women for Peace have labeled Hummers as "Killers on the Road." The group cites a study by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration indicating that if you are in an accident with an SUV, you are 3.4 times more likely to be killed than if you had been hit by another car. Their website reads, "Simply put, on the road, mass wins. The 8,400 pound (Hummer) H2 and 10,000+ H1 weigh significantly more than the average SUV, and are thus some of the most dangerous killers on the road. Their height, weight and the stiffness of their frames put drivers of smaller cars at great risk for fatalities."
2. Hummer driver collides with car to save children
Darrell Krushelnicki, 46, was in Edmonton, Canada on Aug. 31, 2012 visiting his parents for the weekend. As he was leaving a parking lot near a local mall he spotted a silver Pontiac speeding toward four children in a crosswalk. The man driving the Pontiac was on his cell phone. Krushelnicki said the driver was not paying any attention to the crosswalk or the children.
The Pontiac driver was careening toward the children at more than twice the posted speed limit -- 50 mph in a 20 mph zone.
"I could just see...and I just had the feeling that something bad was going to happen if something wasn't done to stop that vehicle," Krushelnicki explained. "The timing was all there for those kids to be struck and there was really nobody else, I had to do it. I had to do what I did."
Krushelnicki hit the gas and quickly put his Hummer H3 between the Pontiac and the children.
In the ensuing collision Krushelnicki's Hummer pushed the Pontiac to the side just before it reached the crosswalk. Both vehicles were damaged by the impact but neither driver was seriously injured, and the children were saved.
Witnesses confirmed that the driver of the Pontiac, John Troy Heitzman, 23, was talking on his cell phone. Heitzman was charged with dangerous driving.
Scott Pattison, spokesperson for the Edmonton Police Department said, "We could have been talking about a very different story today that involved potentially the serious injury or death of four children between the ages of 3 and 16."
Krushelnicki made the front page of the Edmonton Sun and was dubbed "The Hummer Hero" on social network websites.
The size and weight of the Hummer combined with Krushelnicki's quick reaction and willingness to do something made all the difference for those four children.
Talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving is outlawed in Edmonton, but that isn't what stopped 23-year-old John Heitzman from killing those children. They were saved because a man took action with a powerful vehicle that some people want outlawed or banned from city streets.
I do not drive a Hummer, nor do I own any high-powered sport rifles, but I will fight for the rights of any competent American who wants to own one.
Outlawing guns is not the answer to stopping school shootings. It is unfair to stereotype and sanction owners of Hummers or guns. Our focus must be brought back to the real cause of these tragedies. Let us instead make it a national and speedy goal to start providing sufficient help for those suffering from mental illness.
In the meantime, I believe there is wisdom in placing an armed school resource officer or a certified and trained volunteer in every school. This is a real shield of protection we can place between our children and a potential killer.