Last month, Laurie Young of South Paris was convicted of failing to yield to Jayden Cho-Sargent, whom she killed when her car hit the 13-year-old in a marked crosswalk last Nov. 3. The case is a brutal reminder that speed kills, and the punishment an example of our perverse deference to drivers over pedestrians, cyclists and other nonmotorized users of our roadways.

Young claimed that she did not have time to see Cho-Sargent, and an accident reconstruction specialist testified she was going roughly 10 mph over the speed limit in conditions of poor visibility. While the defense argued that even the posted speed of 25 mph would not have made much difference in a collision, the judge agreed with the prosecution that Young failed to exercise due care and yield to Cho-Sargent. We concur.

At a slower speed, it is possible that even had she hit Cho-Sargent, the impact might not have been fatal. But the bottom line is that poor visibility – before dawn on a rainy morning – should have indicated a need to drive at least as slow as the posted maximum speed, if not slower.

Young’s minimal penalty for the death of a 13-year-old? A three-year license suspension and a $3,000 fine, part of which Judge Rick Lawrence will let Young work off, “preferably by speaking to schoolchildren about her experience.”

Making the victim’s peers her target audience is bizarre. What else can Young say to schoolchildren but “When you grow up and drive, don’t speed, and make sure you can stop in time for anything” – and hope they remember the lesson years later?

Instead, Young should be ordered to speak to licensed adults in driver education or remedial driving classes or through a public-service announcement. That is the audience that needs reminding about the real responsibilities and true dangers of driving.

John Brooking


Lincoln Paine