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Driver who struck, killed Md. jogger fined $500

A driver who fatally struck a jogger running in the road near Emmitsburg, Md., has been fined $500 under a plea agreement.

Twenty-nine-year-old Joshua Cool pleaded guilty Monday in Frederick to failing to exercise care to avoid a pedestrian. In return for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped charges of negligent driving and other offenses.

Cool was charged in the death last April of 22-year-old Elizabeth DiNunzio, of Zelienople, Pa. She was a Spanish major at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg.

Defense attorney Kate English says her client was devastated by the accident.

Cool's parents were fined $200 each earlier this month for letting their son drive the uninsured pickup truck that hit DiNunzio.

-- Associated Press

By Washington Post Editors  |  March 30, 2010; 9:49 AM ET
Categories:  Frederick , Traffic Accidents  
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The incompetent prosecuters should be ashamed of themselves. Josh Cool deserves some jail time for being so careless.

Posted by: kenk3 | March 30, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

As someone that runs on the road this story is very sad.
Considering myself a car enthusiast, I would guess in my observations that many drivers seem to be reluctant to use their brakes as enthusiastically as their gas-pedal. And I would also guess in the dark many drivers go faster then what their headlight offer.
Amazingly when two cars going in opposite direction and a runner align at a point on the road I notice that most times the car furthest from the runner will not position themselves as far right as possible to allow the car nearest the runner or biker to position as far left so the runner/biker has as much room as possible.
Was there a feeling that the runner contributed to the accident?
Was the runner going with or against the traffic?

Posted by: clkgtrss | March 30, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

It's a sad story. I think $500 fine is too lenient. However, I never understood why people insist on jogging on the road. One leaves their life at the hands of drivers. Not all drivers are consciencious. I strictly jog on a treadmill, a track, or a jogging path. I rarely do sidewalks and never do street.

Posted by: jabreal00 | March 30, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

So that's the value of life? Just to be able to mark the "win" column, the prosecutor asks for a fine. This is intolerable.

Posted by: jckdoors | March 30, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I insist on jogging on the road, if and only if there is not a sidewalk, for the purpose of getting from Point A to Point B. I don't own a car, and the treadmill won't get me to the store. Not to say that the young woman who was killed was jogging for the purpose of transportation (note: why she was jogging in the road is irrelevant) but walking and jogging are legitimate forms of transportation. Drivers have an obligation not to kill walkers or joggers or bikers just as they have an obligation not to kill other vehicle occupants. Fair enough?

Posted by: bctef | March 30, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

The fine for Cool and his parents is a joke. What type of justice was this? The young womens family must feel like she was hit all over again. Pay attention when you are driving!!

Posted by: katesgram | March 30, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Since the prosecutor wasn't able to close the deal, perhaps a civil attorney can drive the point home for this guy and his parents. He already admitted in criminal court that he failed to exercise care, and my guess there may have been some other issues in the past for him.

Sometimes personal responsibility doesn't hit home until it hits the wallet. (My guess is this 29-yr old boy's parents paid his legal fees.)

Posted by: anonymouslurker | March 30, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I think we need more information. What was the driver doing the prosecutors considered "Negligent Driving", the fact the vehicle was not covered by insurance is also inexcusable. However, people need to understand the roadway is for vehicles and not pedestrians. I wonder just what precautions the jogger exercised to protect herself. The first obvious choice is to jog along roadways with sidewalks or on pathways/trails and not on the street. Joggers and bikers still bear the responsibility for their own safety. I see this in Arlington constantly, pedestrians walking in the street instead of the sidewalk and bikers all over the road blocking traffic and not using marked bike lanes. Safety begins with individual responsibility.

Posted by: tyree230 | March 30, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: DATBREEZ | March 30, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

So, if I am at fault in a car accident and kill the driver, am I only liable for $500...minus the car costs?!

Posted by: Jake_99 | March 30, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I'm not familiar with the entire story. But my heart goes out to her family.

Posted by: jennjen | March 30, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Is a vehicle worth more than the driver?

Posted by: Jake_99 | March 30, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I ask people why they got to run in the road and they say the sidewalk is cracked and has tree roots but I never see where it is that bad.

But the cement is too hard. So they say.

Not if they have running shoes, they are padded enough for any surface.

Really they get used to driving in the road so they run the same path. Habit.

That's all.

And they are dying to keep those habits.

Posted by: gary4books | March 30, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me buh-wuh?

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | March 30, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Many of you are probably familiar with the Crown Heights riots in New York in the late 80s/early 90s, while Dinkins was mayor. The riots started when a black 6 year old was struck and killed by a car in the motorcade of Rebbe Schneerson. Blacks attacked Hasidim in particular, and Jews in general.

The driver was acquitted of all criminal charges (and then immediately returned to Australia). It was nigh impossible, under New York law, absent clear proof of intent, to get a homicide charge out of a vehicular incident. Cars kill people, all the time, both walking or jogging and in other cars. It is the _intent_ element that is what is in play -- did the killer have an illegal intent? Because if you locked up drivers in every auto fatality, you'd have to build a whole lot more jails.

The prosecutor probably accurately concluded he couldn't prove intent. Story doesn't say he was impaired -- it may really have just been an accident.

Also, while a lawsuit is certainly involved, it will probably be limited to Mr. Cool's insurance coverage -- if he has any. And don't forget the 30-40% the plaintiff lawyer will take, and fees that will further reduce what the victim's family sees.

Posted by: gbooksdc | March 30, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

I made a mistake -- the driver was not acquitted, he was not indicted by a grand jury. Also, the child was seven, not six. Memory's going. I googled it, it occurred in 1991.

Posted by: gbooksdc | March 30, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Incredible. A 22-yo woman is dead, and the killer is out $500. What in the world were the authorities thinking?? They just reduced Elizabeth DiNunzio's life to a value about 25% of the computer I'm using to write this message. They should be ashamed of themselves, but I'm sure they've already forgotten about it. After all, there's probably a pot-smoker somewhere who needs to be put away for a few years.

Posted by: bjameswi | March 31, 2010 7:04 AM | Report abuse

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