John Winters

Taking responsibility

As dad to the three SONS of Thunder, one of the things I try to impart on them is to take responsibility for their actions.

These life lessons, so to speak, always come after the Little Black Dress or I ask, “What were you thinking?”

And that line is preceded by some action by one of the aforementioned SONS who, to put it simply, did something really dumb. Basically, they acted before they thought.

It is not an uncommon action around our house.

You leave the door open, the dogs will run away; you put your sandwich on the counter, Gigantor will eat it and you will go hungry, or have to make another sandwich; you hit your brother, you will get hit or kicked back. And my favorite, when they decided to play Lord of the Flies or some such thing, was when one of them fashioned a crude spear and threw it at a sibling.

“WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!”

Always followed by “I don’t know.”

I am determined to ingrain in my boys that they must take responsibility. Too often in today’s society, we play the blame game. We couldn’t help it, not our fault, had a bad childhood, they started it, and on and on.

A perfect example of this complete breakdown in responsibility came out in the last few days.

A little background: On Oct. 28, 2012, 17-year-old Brandon Majewski and two friends hopped on their bikes to go get hotdogs around 1:30 a.m. It was dark and there was a slight rain.

According to the Toronto Star, “Brandon was struck from behind by an SUV and killed while his friend Richard McLean, 16, was seriously injured with a broken pelvis and other bones. His other pal, Jake Roberts, 16, was knocked off his bike but sustained only scratches.”

Here’s the kicker:

“Now the driver of the SUV, Sharlene Simon, 42, a mother of three, formerly from Innisfil, is suing the dead boy for the emotional trauma she says she has suffered. She’s also suing the two other boys, as well as the dead boy’s parents, and even his brother, who has since died. She’s also suing the County of Simcoe for failing to maintain the road,” the newspaper reported.

“In a statement of claim filed with the court, Simon is claiming $1.35 million in damages due to her psychological suffering, including depression, anxiety, irritability and post-traumatic stress. She blames the boys for negligence,” according to the article, adding the claim says they were “incompetent bicyclists.”

The story has taken on a life of its own and is spreading like wildfire across the Internet. Mrs. Simon is now in contention for title of “the most hated woman in the world.”

No charges were filed in the accident, although authorities are considering reopening the case. The families of the victims have also sued, and claim Simon was drinking and/or texting. It should also be noted that Simon’s husband was following her in another car. He is a police officer.

It may have just been a horrible accident. Maybe Simon just didn’t see the teenagers. And why were the kids out so late? Questions upon questions remain. But again, it is about taking responsibility. And taking responsibility does not mean suing the family of a teenager killed by the vehicle you were driving.

“I’m devastated, I’m in shock,” Majewski's mother, Venetta Mylnczyk, told the Toronto Sun. “She killed my child and now she wants to profit from it? She says she’s in pain? Tell her to look inside my head and she will see pain, she will see panic, she will see nightmares.”

(John A. Winters is general manager of The Newnan Times-Herald. Follow his adventures at justflipthedog.com. You can reach him at john@newnan.com)



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