I'm moved today to write this blog by a letter to the editor in the sports section of Sunday's Post-Dispatch. I'll offer my views using a civil, respectful tone. I have grown tired of all the ranting, raving and name calling by so called members of the media when someone disagrees with their position.
My comments are in response to the last line in the letter: "Does it really matter what the toxicology report says?" (with regard to the Josh Hancock tragedy.) The answer is absolutely YES( admittedly after much internal debate about the events). Not because Hancock made a slew of bad decisions that led to his own death. But, because those decisions put others at risk. Because Hancock turned his vehicle into a deadly weapon that could have altered or destroyed the lives of innocent people.
When an individual, public figure or not, breaks the law we in the media are empowered to investigate the details surrounding the transgression. When an individual breaks the law AND endangers others as a result, we in the media are obligated to investigate. I believe we at KMOV have done a decent job of avoiding sensationalism in reporting this story. (some would argue we could always do better.) And, I very much believe we've given Hancock's teammates and family members ample airtime to celebrate Hancock's life and spread the word about what a likeable , decent guy he was. I have no reason to doubt those opinions. But Hancock lost the right to privacy reagrding the events specific to April 28/29 when his actions put others at risk. Just as Leonard Little lost that right when his poor decisons led to the death of Susan Gutweiler in 1998.
If I sound adament about this topic, it's because I speak from experience. I was hit by a drunk driver in September of last year. A 25 year old woman whose blood alcohol level was 0.19 was driving recklessly when she lost control of her car on eastbound 40 at Hampton. Her car careened across three lanes, jumped a median and slammed into my car broadside as I was getting on 40. Fortunately, my suv was big enough to withstand the impact. It did suffer 15k dollars worth of damage and it hasn't run right since but thankfully I walked away unhurt. That woman's decisions violated my right to expect a safe ride to work. You should expect the same when you're behind the wheel.
We will be reporting the results of the toxicology tests whatever they are. I have a right to know and so do you. If the revelation that he used marijuana (still not known at this point) in addition to being drunk played a role in his death leads to just one person re-evaluating his conduct it will be worth it.
I believe everything I've heard about Josh Hancock. I have no reason to doubt what his sister, father and teammates have said about him. But, my thoughts aren't on Hancock at this time. They're on all those who have died or been injured as a result of the type of decisions Hancock made that night. For that reason, I absolutely believe the results of the toxicology tests do matter. I've come to realize this week that it shouldn't matter that someone else didn't die. Someone easily could have. In fact, I think we all know what would have happened if the tow truck hadn't been parked in the left hand lane and the driver of the disabled Geo Prism had been in the car. To me, that's the point here. Putting yourself at risk is a shame. Putting others at risk is a crime.