We’ve observed the courts and chronicled human foibles for decades.
And we’ve never seen a more heinous, stupid, reckless, self-indulgent act than what Tara McConnell did on June 5.
The Martinez woman, age 46 at the time, piled six neighborhood kids, including one of her own, into her Honda Accord that afternoon and headed for a gas station for slushes – with a blood alcohol content, authorities say, that was all of five times the legal limit.
With six innocent, trusting, unrestrained children on board. Children whose parents had trusted to be in her care and custody.
As fate and drunkenness would have it, she turned left into the path of another vehicle traveling the other way – injuring all the kids in a cataclysmic collision, but most notably leaving an 11-year-old girl with a traumatic brain injury and her 6-year-old sister, who was riding on her sister’s lap, paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.
Call it what you will, but this was no accident. It was the natural, predictable, abominable result of the thoughtless, wanton, hedonistic act of a fully aged adult self-medicating to the point of delirium and heedlessly placing those beautiful young creatures directly in the path of a moving vehicle.
There are killers who receive less prison time than the 30 years Superior Court Judge Daniel Craig handed her on Monday – and that sentence was thoroughly just and wholly fitting. She’s not getting off easy, but with six children still alive she got away lucky.
The rest did not.
The 11-year-old has trouble comprehending simple instructions in school. Her paralyzed 6-year-old sister will need constant care for the foreseeable future.
Their mother, not even involved in the incident, suffers from PTSD and depression. The mounting medical bills alone would be enough of a cause.
Other children in the crash can’t help but be unnerved while riding in cars
If there’s a shred of sympathy left for her, consider the fact that, in an overheard jail conversation, McConnell is said to have complained about the children coming to her sentencing, characterizing it as a “freak show.”
One observer called the 30-year sentence “a temporary salve for the injury that (the victims) will deal with permanently.”
Nor may the salve last as long as it perhaps should: McConnell will be eligible for parole after a few years.
What is it with people today? Senselessness and selfishness have always been our lot. But it seems there is an unrestrained intemperance and narcissism today that is likely unprecedented in its extravagance and disregard for others.
Whither went responsibility?