Saturday, May 30, 2009

When bad things happen...

UPDATE: Monday 2:20PM

So the Daily Hampshire Gazette must feel bad about Friday's (below the fold) front page puff piece on the 75-year-old hit and run driver. This morning they published an (above the fold) front page sympathetic piece on 33-year-old
cyclist Misty Bassi who was tragically killed on Memorial Day morning, written by Nick Grabbe their most experienced reporter; and the Gazette also did a somber editorial on the "tragedy in Amherst".

Original Post: Saturday morning

Having trained for ten consecutive years to summit Mt. Washington on a bike, I spent a lot of time in the saddle. And over the past 25 years probably cycled up or down University Drive a thousand times.

While 'Swift Way,' the bike path connector to Umass, has only been around since 2002 I have never used it; and not simply because of my prior habit of using the shoulder of the road but because of all the activity on the east side.

The west side has its own access road, so it seems less conjested for cars entering University Drive. But yeah, it can still get hairy with folks coming and going to the Post Office or Big-Y supermarket. On Memorial Day morning I took my two-year-old for a ride on the back of my mountain bike, but fortunately went uptown.

Ten years ago when I was on a training ride near Hadley center a driver backed out of his driveway directly into me. And while he was only going 5 MPH or so and I was doing close to 20 MPH a 4,000-pound car vs. 19-pound bike always results in a TKO'd cyclist.

My business partner said the man called the Athletic Club and was so distraught as to be almost unintelligible. And while I did little damage to his car a fully-grown body cascading over the top of a vehicle is pretty hard to ignore.

But apparently that’s exactly what a 75-year-old Amherst woman did when she left her lane, crossed into the southbound lane of University Drive and hit Misty Bassi, 33, who probably died instantly.

Yesterday the Gazette published an overly sympathetic front-page profile—not of the innocent 33-year-old victim going about her daily routine, but of the woman who ran her down and fled the scene. Although a friend did admit it was a tad out of character considering her Mother Teresa persona.

Yes, we all make mistakes and for most of them folks deserve a second chance. Misty Bassi did not make a mistake; yet she gets no second chance.


Anonymous said...

Grumpy Prosecutor again:

My experience is that, as the years go by after an incident like this one, the victim, and everything that she was, begins to simply fade out of the conversation.

Rich Morse

LarryK4 said...

And I'm sure you will agree: that's very, very sad (another good reason for you to be grumpy.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reporting on this tragic story, Larry.

And just for the record (the Gazette mixed this up too): the Swift Connector is on the east; the west
side of U'Drive has the parallel access roadway.

Drive defensively, especially when driving a bike. That can't bring Ms. Bassi back, but it may save a few
more lives....

LarryK4 said...

Thanks for the correction (will happen here a lot faster than at the Gazette)

I always drive defensively when on my bike. The scary thing is had that been me THAT morning, you would not now be reading this response...

Anonymous said...

Any idea why the center of town flag is at 1/2 staff??


LarryK4 said...

Actually No.

Hadley and Southwick also had theirs at half-staff yesterday.

I'm on the State list serve that covers any Presidential or Governor of Mass order to lower to half staff, and I have not gotten an email alert since the day before Memorial Day.

But I'll ask.

Mel said...

By the way, I have been told that Ms. Niroomand was crying hysterically as she drove down University Drive after visiting with someone at a nursing home in Amherst. Once this was explained to me (off the record and as a result, unprintable), I understood how and why it was possible for her to run across the road at full speed and not see that she hit my friend without stopping. She thought she hit a tree as I understand.

It is still negligence. She should not have been driving in that emotional state. It is still homicide with a motor vehicle and she was charged accordingly.

And I will make sure, as her best friend and apparently the sole source of the most complete account of who she was, that Misty and the memory her will not fade into obscurity.

LarryK4 said...

Hey Mel,

I never met your friend Misty (but I'm sure at some point we crossed paths out on the road with our bikes.)

I too will not forget her.