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Your Turn

Fix the blind spot


I am writing in response to the Jan. 22 article in the Independent, "Driving Blind," which described the details surrounding the fatal city bus accident involving my brother, Vince Miller.

We loved Vince deeply and the way that he died was tragic. We only hope that his death will result in positive changes being made in how the fare boxes are mounted on city buses.

The bus driver, Harry Wallace, had an accident. Accidents happen. He most certainly did not hit our brother on purpose. Was he negligent? Maybe. Maybe not.

I too, drive a large vehicle around on the city's streets in the course of my job. It is not easy. Large vehicles are different. Negotiating city traffic hazards in such a vehicle is difficult and sometimes stressful. Add to this the serious blockage of view caused by the bus fare box and you have a traffic accident just waiting to happen. I am only amazed that it did not happen sooner. To ask a driver to drive a bus with the view blocked, as shown in the article, is unconscionable.

I hold no animosity toward Mr. Wallace. I really believe that he did everything within his power to make that turn as safely as possible. Mr. Wallace still has charges pending against him ... possibly up to a year in jail. What would that possibly accomplish? There is no punishment that he could receive that's greater than living with the haunting memories of that tragic day. Such a penalty would only contribute toward ruining his life. There is nothing society can do to Mr. Wallace that will bring our brother back to his family.

My brother loved his daughters and grandkids, and now they must live without him. But that is part of life for all of us. Our existence here on earth is delicate and fleeting. We never know from one moment to the next when we or a loved one will pass on to meet our maker. Or how, for that matter. Getting hit by a bus is not what any of us would choose, but it was an accident.

There is one other thing that was touched on in the article, but perhaps should be explored further. What amount of responsibility for this mishap should be placed on my brother? His blood alcohol content at the time was .12. He was drunk. He had been drunk pretty much for 20 years. There comes a point where alcoholism affects your thinking whether sober at that moment or not. One is certainly not thinking clearly when he steps out in front of a moving bus. This may sound harsh, perhaps unsympathetic.

In our society today, it is commonplace to avoid accepting responsibility for our own actions. Frequently, we look for someone else to blame when something bad happens to us. This avoidance of responsibility is resulting in loss of freedom and society is becoming ever more litigious.

In this case, my bother's family is seeking legal action. Perhaps because of this threat, the bus company felt that it must take some action. So, they fired the driver. However, to take the wrong action is worse than taking no action. The fact is the driver was a victim of circumstances. His vision was seriously hampered by the fare box, which the bus company knew was a problem and had failed to correct. And he was also a victim of an intoxicated man stepping out in front of his bus.

Whose fault was this accident? First, the bus company's. To expect drivers to negotiate a large vehicle in city traffic in the vicinity of numerous pedestrians/passengers with his view blocked to that degree is criminal. Second, the fault was my brothers'. Least of all do I think blame should be placed on the driver.

My nieces and their families are seeking a settlement and they need to pursue what they believe is right. Whatever they receive will not bring my brother back to them. He is gone. We need to let go.

If any good can come of this, it would be for the bus company to admit that there is a problem concerning the fare boxes and take immediate corrective action, before someone else is hurt or killed. And as for Mr. Wallace, let him have his job back. Yes, he was part of a tragic accident, but it was an accident. Don't ruin his life also.

Jerry Miller lives in Colorado Springs. His brother, Lloyd Miller, who also lives in Colorado Springs, signed off in support of this letter.

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