Driving safely

Because of the high correlation between traffic stops and felony arrests, police officers in many jurisdictions are advised to vigorously enforce the motor vehicle laws. Routine traffic stops have led to the arrest of, among others, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, serial murderer Ted Bundy, and Atlanta child killer Wayne Williams. David Berkowitz-Son of Sam- was captured as a result of a parking ticket issued to him at the time he committed one of his offenses. Traffic stops regularly result in criminal arrests, drug interdiction, and criminal investigations. In Wren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996) the Supreme Court held that the violation of any traffic law justifies the brief detention of a motorist even if the officer’s subjective intent was to investigate an unrelated crime. It stands to reason, therefore, that individuals wishing to engage in criminal behavior and avoid detection are well advised to drive in a cautious and lawful manner.

Some motor vehicle offenses are felonious in and of themselves. One such case involved “a contest of speed” between Roshun Jones and Dennis Waidler who prior to September 23, 1999, had never met. Both, however, were fond of cars and each had acquired and restored late model Ford Mustangs. In the late afternoon that day, Mr. Jones initiated the race when he passed the vehicle being driven by Waidler on Route 138 in Jewett City, CT. Both cars then proceeded north on Route 12, a rural secondary highway, towards Plainfield, CT. Offended by the slight, Waidler pulled alongside of Jones, when his passenger, Renee Hasbrouk, made a derogatory remark about Jone’s car-the only words exchanged during the incident. For the next three and one half miles, the two vehicles raced northbound on Route 12 into the town of Plainfield- driving in tandem and passing each other at speeds well in excess of sixty-five miles per hour. Apparently, the only prize offered to the winner of this contest would be bragging rights which, in the end, neither party claimed.

As Waidler and Jones were racing along, Chad Langlois, was turning north onto Route 12 from Toper Road. Waidler, in the lead at the time, slammed on his brakes and swerved into the southbound lane to avoid Langlois’ car. At that same time Ian Cloutier was driving in the southbound lane taking the the twelve year old daughter of his fiance, Jaclyn Cinque to a dental appointment. Because it was a pleasant early fall day, the two had decided to take Ian’s motorcycle. Waidler attempted to return to the northbound lane after passing Langlois car, but struck Cloutier’s motorcycle in doing so. He then lost control of his vehicle which flipped several times ejecting him and his passenger in the process. Although debris from Waidler’s car punctured on of the tires on Jones’ vehicle, he drove almost one-half mile before stopping. When all was said and done, the accident left four dead and one in prison.

Dennis Waidler survived the accident but his girlfriend, Rene Hasbrouck did not. She was killed as a result of injuries sustained in the collision. Several months later, when Waidler learned of his imminent arrest, he committed suicide. Likewise, Ian Cloutier survived the accident but sustained serious brain injuries and the traumatic amputation of his left leg. Following the accident, his life was in shambles; he broke up with his fiance and lost his job. He lived long enough to testify at Jones’ trial but was found dead in his apartment several years later. It was never determined whether his death was suicide or accidental. His passenger, twelve year old Jacyln Cinque, was killed instantly.

After a jury trial, Roshun Jones was convicted of two counts of misconduct with a motor vehicle, racing, assault in the third degree and reckless endangerment and sentenced to ten years in prison. During his interview for the pre-sentence investigation, he told the probation officer that, upon his release, he wanted to race cars for a living.

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