When I wrote my story in Friday’s paper about the car that crashed into the WindStar bus on Wednesday morning, I stuck to the facts. But no matter how I wrote the story, I knew people would try to blame Tama County Deputy Chad Hansen for not doing something to stop Ronald Kitch from driving. I usually never talk about how I feel in situations relating to my job. This time, I need to.
What could Hansen have done to prevent the bus crash? Even if Hansen had written Kitch a ticket for hitting the telephone pole, he still could have driven home. No one would be taken off the road unless their driving skills were clearly impaired. And, like Hansen told me, he didn’t see anything unusual about his driving. He followed him long enough to notice anything that could have been wrong. Kitch was simply tired. And who knows what influenced him in the second one? The Iowa State Trooper who handled the accident report said Kitch didn’t remember what happened. Like I wrote in my story, he was looking at his dog.
Law enforcement officers are always damned if they do, damned if they don’t, in my opinion. Someone, somewhere, will think they made the wrong decision, whether it’s to show a little compassion to an older gentleman who appeared to just be tired or absolutely refuse to let him drive another inch. If Hansen had made him stop driving, I’m sure some of the same people would be screaming about it. That doesn’t keep us from holding them accountable for truly bad decision-making, though. In this case, it could have gone either way.
If anyone’s going to point fingers (and nothing good ever comes from that), place the blame where it really belongs: No matter the reason, Kitch’s car crossed the center line. End of story.