Excerpt: 'The Driving Dilemma'

Witnesses were frozen by the sound and motion of it all, likening it to a tornado, tidal wave, and earthquake all hitting at the same time. Bodies and stands were fl ying like pins in a bowling alley. A crowd rushed the car when it fi nally came to a stop. They pulled the driver, an elderly man, from the car. Then they lifted the '92 Buick off the woman trapped underneath and disabled the horn, which allowed the other, haunting sounds to take over. Screams of pain and confusion, and calls for help fi lled the air, as did sirens and, a bit later, the sounds of helicopters coming to transport the injured to hospitals. The Police Chief, James T. Butts, Jr., said it was the single most horrifi c, devastating scene of tragedy he had ever seen in thirty years of law enforcement. By the end of the week, 10 people were dead and 63 injured. The dead ranged in age from 7 months to 78 years; death came painfully and indiscriminately.


On July 16, 2003, about 1:46 p.m. Pacifi c Daylight Time, a 1992 Buick LeSabre driven by an 86-year old male was westbound on Arizona Avenue, approaching the intersection of Fourth Street, in Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California. At the same time, a 2003 Mercedes Benz S430 sedan was also westbound on Arizona Avenue and had stopped for pedestrians in a crosswalk. The Buick struck the left rear corner of the Mercedes, continued through the intersection, and drove through a farmers' market, striking pedestrians and vendor displays before coming to rest. The Buick proceeded through the farm- ers' market for approximately 2 blocks (750 feet) and came to rest near the intersection of Ocean and Arizona Avenues. As a result of the accident, 10 people died and 63 people were injured, some seriously. The Buick driver stated to police that he tried to stop the car as it went through the market, stepping on the brake, taking his foot off the accelerator, and ultimately trying to put the car's transmission in "park". Police offi cers were on the scene within one minute and by the end of the afternoon a total of 400 municipal employees (fi re, ambulance, police, etc.) responded to the accident. He indicated he might have confused the brake and accelerator pedals.

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