Friday, November 27, 2009

Man on Wheelchair Killed by Motorist in Santee; More Auto-centric Media Bias

A man on a wheelchair was struck and killed by a motorist in Santee (San Diego County) on Wednesday, November 25, 2009, reports the San Diego Union Tribune.

According to investigators, as reported by SDUT, the 60-year-old man, Hector Villasenor, 'was on an electric wheelchair when he went onto Carlton Hills Boulevard about 6 p.m. and crossed directly into the path of a pickup truck that was heading southbound.'

However, the reasoning behind this action seems to defy logic. Why would a wheelchair-bound man purposely 'cross directly into the path of a pickup truck'? Was it for suicidal purposes? No one would intentionally cross into the path of a 3,000lb vehicle unless it was for suicidal purposes or due to a mental illness. The SDUT writer of this piece did not shed light on this possibility.

The writer of the piece also omits some seriously important portions of information. The author never asks the essential question at hand; why wasn't the motorist able to stop for this pedestrian? Was the motorist driving distracted? How fast was the motorist going? Are crashes at this intersection frequent and how frequent are they? Furthermore, are there are any plans described in the General Plan to improve the area for safer bicyclist and pedestrian access? These are essential questions the author has omitted.

We are told that Mr. Villasenor "crossed" 'directly into the path of' the pickup truck rather than being told that the motorist crossed directly into the path of the man on the wheelchair. Why did the author chose to frame the incident from the perspective of the motorist but not from the perspective of the pedestrian involved?

Mr. Villasenor and the motorist of a pickup truck collided, one is person is dead, and now the discourse of this SDUT writer suggests that the man who was crushed to death is to blame for the crushing. Yet, we haven't seen any evidence which supports this claim except for a vague claim that the motorist's 'path' was "crossed". What exactly does that mean and how did the incident occur?

In regards to media bias, our issue is that this deadly crash is one one such representation of a series of incidences where the now deceased victims of automobile hegemony are blamed for their own deaths, while the authors of these pieces have omitted crucial bits of information from the story; consider the recent cases of 12-year old Randy Vargas who was killed by a motorist in North County and Walter Freeman who was struck from behind and killed by a police officer in a patrol car. (In the Randy Vargas case, the author of the news article omits the speed of travel of the motorist. In the Walter Freeman case, the authors of the various articles representing this incident never ask what it was that the officer was doing inside of his car at the time that Walter Freeman entered that portion of the roadway).

The death of Hector Villasenor is extremely sad. We sympathize with the family.

What makes the matter worse is that this incident was written from a windshield perspective which essentially blames Mr. Villasenor for his own death, while the author offers no explanation of how the incident occured. It was written from the perspective of the motorist and the motorist only. This piece is thereby, an auto-centric and biased representation of an incident which claimed the life of a pedestrian on a wheelchair.

1 comment:

  1. It saddens me to know that we can very easily dismiss the death of an individual. A person was killed and all we can do is lightly summarized the tragic event in a few matter-of-fact sentences. Regardless of that individual’s mobility; he was a human being. He is now dead and cannot tell us what happen. Maybe his motorized-wheelchair stalled – does anyone care to know?

    I pray for someone to come forward and investigate. I pray for someone with legal knowledge, with sympathy for the easily-spare handicapped of our society. I pray for someone to speak out for the silent-ones!