Monday, July 19, 2004

Strowd Hill

Another Friday night, another fatal automobile accident on East Franklin Street on Strowd Hill, otherwise known as "the big-ass curve and hill from downtown Chapel Hill to Estes Drive". "[CHPD Sgt. Steve] Riddle said the car was traveling in excess of 100 mph in a 30-mph zone at the time of the accident. The car left 355 feet of tire impression before hitting the tree on the passenger side, he said." Let's see... rental car, 3 guys (2 of them underage, one with a borrowed ID) with Durham addresses, half hour after last call on a Friday night - gee, do you think "that alcohol and speed were factors in the wreck." Uhm, yeah.  One dead, two in serious condition - and if they were doing 100 mph on the main drag (which they would have to be), probably a miracle that no one that wasn't in the car got hurt.
The second thing I thought of when I read the report (the first was "that's a real shame!  I hope the other two guys make it.") was a night in October of 1985, when I was driving Bo Diddley back to the Holiday Inn down that curve at 3:00 in the morning after his show and we saw a car against a utility pole in exactly the same place these guys augered in.  After commenting that we hoped no one was seriously hurt, my next comment was that I hoped that they hadn't been drinking in a bar.  I explained the "pub law" that had just recently gone into effect in North Carolina, holding bar owners (and store owners and party givers) potentially liable for damages done by someone after drinking at their place.  Bo's rant following that was partly unintelligible and partly unprintable, the most coherent thought being something along the lines of "I thought that kind of bullshit was what we fought against the Nazis for" (I didn't quite make the connection, but he was on a roll).  And I couldn't argue with him.  I've always thought that was a lousy law (and still believe so long after I no longer have a liquor license).  It would be interesting to find out how often it has been applied and how many convictions there have actually been.  No law's a substitute for personal responsibility and for clearly foreseeable consequences of one's actions.


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