Last Thursday night, 44-year-old Robert Tirey, was making a snack run for his friends at the Silverton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Ohio. Tirey was in his motorized wheelchair when he crossed the street in a marked crosswalk. The intersection was a 4-way stop but 26-year-old Jasmain L. Grier of Cincinnati, apparently failed to stop and hit Tirey with her car. Police say that alcohol was involved, meaning that Grier not only ran the stop sign but she was drunk. She hit Tirey with enough force that neither he nor his motorized wheelchair were found in the intersection. Tirey was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Friends at the Silverton center said that Tirey often made snack runs for other residents to a United Dairy Farmers store several blocks away. At the time of his death, he was on one of those runs for his friends. He was described as a very caring and giving man. One of his friends at the center, Tom Wolfram told the local media:
“It was a good fit for him because he would go to the store for other people here that couldn’t make the trip down there and back.”
The Silverton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center released the following statement about Tirey:
“We are, on all levels, assisting in the investigation of this tragic accident. We strive to ensure the safety of our residents while protecting their autonomy and right to be active citizens in their community. Counselors are on hand at the facility to assist our residents and staff through this difficult time. Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Robert Tirey.”
Police are still investigating the accident and will probably charge Grier with a DUI and vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide. I for one believe that anyone driving drunk who kills someone should be charged and convicted of first degree murder. Yes, I believe that drunk driving is a premeditated crime. The person drinking knows they will be will driving after drinking and then makes a conscious decision to drink and drive anyway Therefore, they need to be held accountable for their actions as a premeditated act. If they cause an accident, it’s premeditated. If they kill someone, it’s premeditated and should be punished as such.
Over the years, I’ve heard of far too many people with repeated DUI convictions still drinking drunk, many on suspended licenses. The punishment obviously isn’t sufficient enough to stop them. I have been pushing for years to make DUI convictions more severely punishable to help deter it from happening. If someone knows that a DUI will mean mandatory rehab and/or prison time, some people will think twice before drinking and driving. First offense should be mandatory rehab for alcohol abuse. Second offense, mandatory rehab followed by minimum 5 years in prison. Third offense, forfeiture of vehicle and mandatory rehab followed by minimum 20 years in prison. This will help keep habitual drunks off the road and save countless lives and thousands of others from being injured by a drunk driver. I equate the premeditation of someone who knowingly drinks and then drives and kills someone as the same as the person who intentionally points a gun, shoots and kills someone. Both should be murder in the first degree punishable by death or life in prison without parole.
If you want to know why I feel so strongly about this, many years ago, my three best and closest friends were killed by a drunk driver. The driver was a doctor with several previous DUI convictions. At the time of this accident, my friends were making a legal right turn on a green light when the drunk doctor ran the red light and was speeding so fast that his impact with JJ’s car wrapped it around the steel traffic light pole and sheared it off from its base. My three friends were only 19-years-old at the time. The doctor ended up paying $150 in traffic fines and walked away free to drive drunk again and potentially kill more people. I found out later that the same doctor had a previous conviction of DUI about a year prior. Had he been forced into rehab or in jail, my three friends would still be alive.