"I ought to be dealing with tomorrow night’s game -- not this crap. It was the kid’s fault."
-- Muskogee High School (Phoenix) football coach Matt Hennesy’s response after his car collided with a 7-year-old bicyclist and he left the injured boy with a trainer so he could attend a team dinner.
I saw this quote in an email I got this morning. It astounded me that a person could be so crass, but it is always good to get the other side of the story. I thought I should look deeper into this and see what happened. See the following article from which I sourced my info. http://newsok.com/article/3125918/1189789027 - There are myriads of comments attached to this article arguing for and against Matt Hennessy. I am aware that this article may contain factual errors, but for the sake of this article i have taken it to be a fair representation of the facts. I do note, with a certain amount of concern, that the young victiim in this story, and the Journalist who wrote the story share the same surname - of course, it could simply be coincidental - but off all the same. I tried to find a mugshot of the coach, but no such luck.
Hennesy is deeply upset that his words have been taken out of context and he is being made out to be a ‘monster”.
This story raises many questions in my mind, but first, let me deal with the facts, as far as I can ascertain.
The coach is driving his car out of a parking lot at 6 pm in Oklahoma.
A seven-year-old cyclist rides his bike into the road and collides with the coach’s car.
The boy is hurt. Hennesy said he was looking in the other direction – presumably to see if the road was clear so that he could join the traffic.
The father is called but says he was busy taking care of another child, a baby, and would come as soon as possible. Apparently, the father never did materialise. Nor did he phone back.
Amongst the witnesses was a nurse who allegedly told Hennesy he could go as she would attend to the injuries. Nobody called the police.
OK – What’s a seven year old doing riding his bike in a public place, completely unattended? It is around 6 p.m. This is early evening – even if the sun has not set. The fact that the boy rode his bike into a car means that he is not yet a competent cyclist and if he is going to ride in public places, should be accompanied by a competent adult, who might have prevented an accident occurring. We do not know, and cannot determine whether the child had had permission to be where he was when he was. Maybe he slipped out unnoticed and decided to go to the shops for whatever reason. This is quite feasible as little children do do these things. If that is the case, the little boy was being very naughty – but that being the case, it still does not make him responsible for the accident. Hennesy is right not to lay a charge against the little boy, but not for the reason he states – the boy is not responsible for that accident. Considering what could have happened to an unaccompanied 7 year old in today’s world, I’d say that he was actually lucky. I think that there is a prima facie case of child endangerment here – but let’s not go down that road.
Turning our attention to Hennesy – he says he was looking in the other direction. What seems odd to me is that the child should sustain as serious injuries as he did if Hennessy’s motor vehicle had been stationary at the moment of impact, but it would depend I suppose on the speed that the youngster was doing. I suggest that he had not come to a complete halt at the moment the child collided with his car. We are not told if the child was approaching from Hennesy’s right or left, or if the road was going up or downhill, but from my understanding, where a vehicle entering traffic has to yield, he has to ensure that the road is clear from both sides before proceeding. Did Hennesy do this? It is possible that he did, except, it is possible he did not notice the seven year old on his bicycle, concentrating instead on big vehicles. Actually, as the accident is described, the seven year old was on the road that Hennesy was attempting to enter, and would I think, constitute part of the traffic to which Hennesy would have to yield. However all this would be subject to a forensic investigation, or at least should be. It’s not up to the coach to ascribe blame for the accident.
Now, to after the accident –
Was the child lying on the ground after the accident, or had he already scrambled to his feet on his own? Much has been said about not moving the victim of an accident, but it is not clear that he did not move himself.
There was a nurse on the scene, and from the report, it seems she took responsibility for the boy and attended to his injuries – I’m sure she was competent at her job. The child was removed, carefully, to the training-room of Hennesy’s team. The boy’s dad was contacted and said he would come as soon as possible – this is really odd.
I can’t quite understand this – surely if one’s young son had been hurt – and you’re phoned and told about it – you drop everything – okay – don’t drop the baby! – but you give the baby to another adult – a mother perhaps – there must have been somebody, or if there is no-one, come with the baby, but whatever you do, come!
Here comes a pet peeve – why was his name published? Minors’ identities should be protected and not published in full, unless it is in a positive light, such as winning a competition, or performing in a show (where the parents have signed a waiver) or in cases where there is need for the child’s name to be known – such as in the Maddy McCann case.
Mr Hennesy, it is the DRIVER’S responsibility to call the police after an accident, not the Nurse’s – or anybody else’s. You should have done that. Surely if you are a holder of a valid driver’s licence you know that much? Don’t blame the nurse – she was concentrating on the child’s well being and even if she said you could go, it was not to go and have dinner – you could have then gone to the police, or phoned the boy’s dad and asked him where he was, so that you could go and fetch him. You should not have moved your vehicle until you had been given the all clear by the police. Did anyone think to take photos (with a camera phone) of the scene? Would you have passed a breathalyser test? Presumably, if you had just left a training session, this would not have been necessary, but then again, you may have had a quick beer after training. No-one can tell now, and if they tested you later – you could always claim you had had something to drink at the dinner.
Mr. Hennesy, I’m sure you’re no monster – but I would say you were kind of crass and certainly we can wonder about your driving competence. Thankfully, sir, the child does not seem to have sustained any permanent injury, but I wonder if, perhaps in the light of everything that occurred, assuming the parents don’t sue you, that you take the initiative and offer to pay for him to see an orthopaedic surgeon. The boy had a “knot on the head” – an expression I am not familiar with but presume it was a bump – just as a precaution, perhaps he should that checked out.
Please, please, post your opinions -
Thanks to mapquest for the Satelite image.