How Could She Do That?

I've been driving extra carefully the last week or two, watching out for cars that might be speeding toward me in the wrong direction. If you read US newspapers, you know why. I keep thinking about that mother on Long Island who drove the wrong way down a freeway, finally crashing into another car, and killing herself, her 2 year old, three nieces, and the three people in the other car.

It was a big mystery for a while how this happened, but the toxicology report revealed she took that drive after consuming 10 shots of vodka and smoking marijuana. She was an affluent cable television executive, "a perfect mother" and a "reliable person"; her husband a public safety officer. And she was on her way home from a camping trip. I keep wondering (everyone keeps wondering): how could she do that? It's heartbreaking ...the whole thing. And completely mind-boggling.

I wonder, though, if we are merely left with a mystery. Says a New York Times commentator:
Each possible version of events that has surfaced in the two weeks since strains credulity, and denies the public the comfort of a familiar cautionary tale. That is part of what has made obsessives of so many people following the story: its refusal to reveal, at a minimum, some lesson that would let us walk away feeling safer for having learned it.
Yes, this woman's personal trajectory is a mystery. But there is actually a lesson, and it's extremely simple: don't drink and drive. I've talked to my kids about this story because it just can't be stressed too much as they get closer to driving age. Plus, there's a lesson about addictions...and the need to beware of them, in ourselves, in others. The husband's got some hard-to-believe theories about how this binge was somehow induced by a medical problem, making me thing he had a problem too. It's called "denial."


s. wallerstein said...

10 shots of vodka! That's too much even if you not going to drive, and I'm a daily wine drinker. (The preview trick works, thanks)

Faust said...

Yeah the 10 shots of Vodka + MJ is what is beyond bizzare. I have a low tolerance for alcohol and I kid you not when I say I'm not sure if it would be possible for me to consume that much. Then add in MJ? That's just kind of mind boggling for a light-weight like me.

For her to have driven after consuming that quantity of booze makes me think a) She was having a mental breakdown b) She regularly consumed very large quantities of alcohol and didn't think much of it c) She was having so much fun she wound up in a binge drinking state and blacked out (lost ability to make rational decision, I've seen this happen to people--it's bizzare).

Anyway I don't find this kind of thing all that suprising. I go with a simple rule about human beings: if you can imagine a human being doing something, ANYTHING, there is a human being who has done it, is doing it right now, or will do it in the future.

I read that cell phone use in cars affects your ability to drive just as much as being drunk. Of course said article did not specifiy how drunk, perhaps it meant the minimum threshold that qualifies as drunk driving? In any case it is interesting there is so litte support for banning cell phones if that is true.

s. wallerstein said...

Maybe she committed suicide. It's the most selfish thing I know of, but from time to time one reads about mothers who kill themselves and their children with them.

Jean Kazez said...

That hadn't occurred to me, but yes...what she did was by all appearances suicidal/homicidal, so I should think the investigators ought to considering that possibility.

s. wallerstein said...

I know people who drive after drinking the equivalent of 10 shots of vodka (and more), and while they should not be driving and while their motor coordination is severely diminished, they know which side of the road to drive on.
In my opinion, that leaves us with two possibilities: the vodka and the marihuana produced a psychotic episode in which she believed that she was driving a chariot along the walls of Troy or suicide. If it was suicide, the urge to kill herself and the children could have been brought on by the alcohol and drugs or she could have used alcohol and drugs to screw her courage up, having previously decided on her crime.

rtk said...

It's possible that she would not have driven after 2 shots. By the time she got half way to ten, her judgement was gone. I drove once after 2 glasses of wine, felt like I had never driven better, recognized the source of such a feeling and never again drove after even one glass. It's easy to understand one wouldn't recognize the falseness of such confidence.