Last Saturday, April 23, a Vietnamese American man lost his life because of two others’ thoughtlessness.
Trung Ngo, from Covington, was a University of Washington mechanical maintenance engineer and father of two children. He and his wife, Cheuk Chann, were driving on Highway 18. At the same time, Mine Her and Frank Willing were driving recklessly.
Her apparently tried to pass other motorists by using the right shoulder. He lost control and struck Ngo’s car, which was traveling in the opposite direction in the other lane. Willing lost control of his own vehicle, and it rolled over onto the shoulder, injuring his passenger, his 10-year-old son.
Ngo died at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center later that day. Chann was injured and released from the hospital two days later.
Frank Willing had been booked by the State Patrol for investigation of vehicular homicide, but he has since been released. Mine Her is still in the hospital and, as reported by KING 5, is in serious condition. State Patrol Trooper Julie Startup told The Seattle Times that Her will not be arrested once he is released from the hospital.
This statement has angered many people, who think that it means Her and Willing will be getting off scot-free. However, it should be noted that Startup’s statement doesn’t necessarily mean that the two men won’t be charged later, once the investigation has concluded.
To report on this tragic event, we talked to Chann and various family members. The pain Chann is feeling is so palpable, and the situation is so sad, especially because she and Ngo have two young children who will grow up without a father.
What’s especially distressing is that this needless accident could have been prevented. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), human error accounts for the majority of auto accidents.
Most of us are aware of general auto safety practices, but perhaps some of us are not internalizing them. Though we all know we have to wear seat belts, do we always follow the law? Did you know that vehicle occupants ages 13 to 15 are those most likely to not use seat belts? According to NHTSA 2009 data, more than two-thirds of children 13 to 15 who were killed in automobile crashes were not wearing their seat belts.
Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic accidents. According to 2008 data, speeding contributed to 31 percent of all fatal crashes. In 2000, the cost of speeding-related crashes was estimated to be $40.4 billion — $76,865 per minute or $1,281 per second.
The lesson is clear. When we get on the road, we really have to turn off our phones, buckle our seat belts, drive according to the speed limit, and follow the rules of the road. If Her and Willing had been more mindful of this, Ngo would still be alive today. ♦