Rep. Bill Janklow’s (R-SD) trial started today.
On August 16, 2003 about 4:30pm, Rep. Bill Janklow was speeding down a country road on his way home on a road he’d driven dozens, if not hundreds of times before. He ran a stop sign. He exceeds the speed limit often enough to have gotten 12 tickets since 1990, and had even had a near miss, almost killing a woman and her family.
However on August 16th, he didn’t miss. Traveling between 70 and 75 mph on a 55mph road, he blew through a stop sign at an intersection where visibility is poor due to a corn field. Partway through the intersection he hit and instantly killed motorcyclist Randy Scott. The photos of Scott’s bike (shown at right) and Rep. Janklow’s car pretty much tell the story of what happened after they collided.
The saddest part about this accident is that it could have been prevented, but Rep. Janklow’s position and stature ensured that he continued his reckless driving even though he was obviously a hazard to law enforcement and the courts system. A short perusal of his driving record shows that he’s a habitual speeder and a reckless driver. Since 1990 he’s gotten twelve tickets and been involved in seven accidents. If that were you or me, our license would be revoked and we wouldn’t be able to obtain insurance.
But that’s not you or me. It’s former Governor and Rep. Bill Janklow. He’s a man who nearly hit and killed a woman and her family last December at the very same intersection, but she didn’t press charges when she found out who he was and realized, “nothing would ever be done, anyway”.
It’s the vision-challenged Bill Janklow, who in prior accidents has reported seeing vehicles nobody else has seen, and yet was allowed to continued driving.
And most disappointing of all, it’s the diabetic Bill Janklow, who has stated that because he hadn’t eaten all day he was unaware of his actions. This, despite the fact that thousands of diabetics drive everyday safely because they take precautions to ensure that they aren’t a hazard to others. This seems, at best, a desperate attempt to avoid responsibility.
These are all shameful acts of reckless negligence. And in his trial that begins today, he probably argue a lack-of-a-twinkie defense. He is trying to weasel out of punishment for a mistake that he needs to own up to in a more than symbolic way. His behaviour has taken the life of another human being, and one would hope that is a life-changing experience. Bill Janklow needs to perform a sober act of contrition by changing his plea to guilty.