The Shot Heard ‘Round The World

Greetings sports fans and welcome back to another thrilling episode of Vegas Valley Sports Beat, the crispest little chicken fried sports column this side of Purgatory, or double your money back. It’s a fairly lovely, albeit somewhat windy day for income tax day here in the verdant Las Vegas Valley region. That constitutes great news for those of you who have waited until the last minute to file your 2020 tax returns, and are going to be standing in a long line of like-minded fools at the local Post Office today. I mailed mine off yesterday so I feel for you. Almost.

Now that the Democrat Party is going to allow America to open back up for business after the two-week lockdown that’s been going on for over a year now, more and more people are going to be on the roadways of LAs Vegas and more of them are likely to be driving under the influence of alcohol.  Not that the shutdown has hurt the state’s DUI numbers for arrests and fatalities any. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the number of road fatalities went up during the pandemic instead of going down as one might reasonably expect them to.

There were 305 fatalities in 2020 as opposed to 304 road fatalities in 2019.  That’s a difference of only one death but the trend was headed downward after 2018 saw 324 fatalities on the roads of Nevada. According to, Andrew Bennett, the spokesman for the Nevada Department of Public Safety, there has been an alarming increase in the number of speed and impaired-related fatalities. “Especially during a year where the bulk majority of this year was spent in a reduction of travel circumstances.”

During the first two months of the lockdown, the number of crashes decreased only to spike upward significantly in the following months. Twenty percent upward to be specific. In April of 2020, Bennett reports that 133 people were arrested for DUI compared to 75 arrests in April of 2019.

Impaired driving is clearly the cause of the 9% increase in the number of pedestrian v. car deaths this year, and the growing incidence of wrong-way drivers compared to last year. Bennett says this is because, “People feel more comfortable when there’s more space on our roadways to speed, and that’s something we really need to address.”

I agree, but the problem of wrong-way drivers also has to be addressed and that might be the best place to start and thereby make a difference in a big way and do it fast. One solution I might suggest is to place sensors under the asphalt on the onramps that if triggered in sequence at a certain speed would allow spike bars to pop up and shred the tires of any vehicle crossing them from the wrong direction. Or just the don’t back up spikes like drive-in theaters used to have to keep people from driving in through the exits and watching the movies for free.

I can only hope and pray that the majority of Las Vegans and those who visit our fair city from all over the world are intelligent enough to know better than to drive over one going the wrong way under normal circumstances. If not then all I can say is that education is not cheap for those who fail to learn the easy way and an even greater cost to those who insist on learning everything the hard way. Shredded tires are far easier to deal with than shattered lives any day.

You can end a life with one shot. A silver bullet to the heart will not only kill werewolves, (Laugh, but you don’t see any werewolves around do you? Nope.) it’ll kill anybody for that matter. Once the shot’s fired and the bullet finds its target that’s that. No amount of remorse is going to bring them back.

That has its own consequences of course. The police are called out, an investigation ensues, arrests are made, there’s a trial, and the killer goes to prison. In the case of a DUI accident, the driver usually goes to jail because God looks out for children, drunks, and fools. It’s the victims that typically suffer the greatest losses.

When that becomes a conflict is when a drunken fool gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and kills a child with it. That’s a horse of a different color.

The shot heard ’round the world isn’t quite as simple as killing someone with a bullet. When lives are lost, mangled, and virtually destroyed by a preventable disease such as driving under the influence it doesn’t end with an article in the local newspaper or a blurb on the local news channels. For the victims and for their loved ones it’s a living nightmare that never ends.

For the drunk driver sitting in a jail cell crying to their families and their lawyers on the phone because their employer just doesn’t understand and fired them, it’s only the beginning. Now the system has you and they will wring blood out of any turnips you might have before they’re done with you. And rightfully so too.

I had a beautiful young friend named, Christine Weir. She was 33 and she worked at the local Walmart where I met her not long before she died. She was going to help me by getting my two dogs out of the animal shelter when I didn’t have the money to spring them. Sadly, however, she was killed by a drunk driver before that could happen.

Christine Weir – Forever young.

Christine was about to marry a very good man named Brian Choiniere and they were going to raise their families together. Then on the night of September 24, 2016, a 24-year-old woman named Ashley Winn decided to go bar-hopping with some friends and while hopping from one whiskey bar to the next, she smashed her truck into the side of Christine’s car killing her and critically injuring Brian while she was on her way to work the night shift at Walmart.

Ashley Winn – Forever unremorseful.

After fighting, and delaying the case for as long as humanly possible in Nye County District Court, Ms. Winn was finally found guilty by a jury and sentenced to serve a term of 16 to 40 years in the Nevada Department of Corrections custody. Her attorney had the audacity to remind the Judge that Ms. Winn had a 4-year-old son that would be lost and adrift in the world without his mother but he failed to breathe one word about the loss of the daughter she killed.  Not a word about the life she snatched out of Brian Choiniere’s hands. They were to be married on October 16th.

The scene of Ashley Winn’s crime.

 

Not one word about the myriad number of lives that were impacted by that one shot too many even though it was heard around the world still people like Ashley Winn, who coincidentally cared OH so much about her 4-year-old son that she was out drinking in bars with friends instead of being at home spending time with him in his formative years. The very same formative years that her attorney spoke so emotionally about when he begged Judge Lane to have mercy on his client.

Obviously, Ashley didn’t kill his kid or that tune is sure to have sounded much different than that. To honor her victim, Ashley got a tattoo that says Whiskey Bent And Hell Bound. Indeed.

It can never be overstressed enough that there are 50 ways to leave your liquor. There are 50 ways to get to it as well. You can bum a ride, call UBER, or LYFT, call a cab, take a bus, call the police and say help I’m drunk and I can’t get home. Walk home, hitchhike, or sleep in your trunk, sleep in the bed of your truck, sleep in a dumpster. Tell the bartender you need a ride home, tell the entire bar you need a ride home, or do whatever it takes, but please don’t get behind the wheel. Or try to ride drunk on a motorcycle even worse.

I know that nobody likes having to leave their vehicle somewhere else and then they have to go back in the morning and find it, but if you don’t get home with it at all then what’s the point of worrying about it in the first place? I got shitfaced one night in Florida and slept under a shrubbery at some local church and nobody bothered me at all. Best of all I woke up a free man, not in a jail cell with a hangover, a cup of nasty jailhouse coffee, and a date with a Pinellas County District Court Judge.

The back of Ashley Winn’s head at trial.

Been there, done that. I was on my bicycle though when I fell over and passed out at an intersection, not behind the wheel of a car, thank God. Once you hit that other car your life is over whether you die or not. Not just your life either, but the lives of everyone your life touches, and any lives that you touched with your car while you were driving under the influence of alcohol.

The only prizes you’re ever going to find at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. Misery, and death. 

Las Vegas, Nevada, the US, and the world open back up on May first, or May Day, of all days, and we want everyone to enjoy their lives to the fullest. That’s why we beg of you, please, please, please do not drink and drive.

The life you save will most assuredly be your own.