When faced with a decision to do the right thing or run, which would you do? Do you know?
It's easy to judge when you aren't in that situation. It's easy to say you'd never do that and how could she not know. But none of us were there; she alone was there.
And now a group of unbiased citizens have determined as best they could what happened that night and that her actions were criminal.
Lapse in Judgment
I'm talking about Amy Senser, the privileged wife of former Vikings star, Joe Senser.
What is undisputed is that late last summer she was driving her Mercedes-Benz SUV and in the dark of night struck and killed Anousone Phanthavong, a Thai Chef, on an exit ramp on I-94 in Minneapolis. Anousone was putting gas in his stalled car at the time. Senser's vehicle was heavily damaged from the impact, which is also undisputed.
Senser claims she didn't know she hit a person. She maintains she thought she had hit a large pothole or construction barrel or other construction debris in the area.
There are many sketchy details from the time surrounding the accident. She had been on the way to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul to pick up her daughters and their friends from a concert, but she claims she became ill and called her husband and asked him to pick them up instead. She was apparently heading back home at the time of the accident.
Regardless of these facts, disputed or undisputed there remains two families forever altered. One family has lost a loved one forever; a life cut tragically short. The other family is left without a mother or wife at least for a while.
No matter how you look at this situation it's sad.
We can't know exactly what happened in those minutes leading to the death of Anousone. We don't know if Senser had been drinking; was heavily medicated due to a sinus infection and migraine; was looking at or using her phone; or simply negligent in operation of her vehicle and selfish in her decision to "save" herself by fleeing the scene.
Senser was found guilty of two counts of criminal vehicular homicide: failing to immediately call for help and leaving the scene of an accident. One of the questions the jury considered was whether a reasonable person would have pulled over to investigate what she had hit and check the damage of her vehicle. They decided that a reasonable person would have done that.
Why didn't Senser stop? Did she have something to hide? Was she intoxicated? We may never know the answers to these questions.
Once again, this case serves as a reminder that we can't be too careful while operating our heavy metal vehicles. It only takes a split second to destroy the lives of others and ourselves.
Senser will be sentenced in July; the convictions call for 4 years in prison. Had she made just a few different decisions on that evening Senser wouldn't have been on that exit ramp or had she simply pulled over and check out what she had hit and called authorities immediately, the outcome could have been very different for everyone.
Life happens in the blink of an eye. My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the events of that August evening. Over and out...