OT Tiny Victim of Highway Violence Clings to Lifegreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
Sunday, April 30, 2000
Tiny victim of highway violence clings to life
By ERIN McCLAM -- Associated Press
ATLANTA -- Jeremy Grimes spends hours staring through the glass of a children's intensive-care unit, at the tubes twisting out of his 2-year-old son's tiny body.
"You couldn't ask for a better baby," he says in the waiting room during a rare pause in his vigil. "He's innocent. He loves his mommy, loves his daddy. He loved everybody, even a complete stranger."
A complete stranger fired the bullet that left Anthony clinging to life.
Grimes was driving his family home for Easter when his 18-wheeler and a car tried to merge into the same lane on Interstate 20 west of Atlanta, police said.
The car's driver relented but later pulled even with Grimes -- and pointed a gun at him as he passed. About 20 miles later, as Grimes was preparing to exit at a truck stop, the man fired into the tractor-trailer.
Anthony was sleeping. The bullet ripped through his shoulder and the side of his face.
Road rage -- random violence committed by infuriated drivers -- is becoming more common each year in traffic-choked cities like Atlanta, where commuters travel farther on average than any other city in the world.
It happens most often not in daily rush-hour snarls, when drivers expect frustration, but in moderate traffic. Road-rage incidents climb at the end of the week and in the spring and summer.
Anthony was shot just before 9 p.m. on a Friday.
This is what Grimes remembers: His wife, panicked, calling out to the boy. His other son, 4-year-old Joshua, screaming: "Pull over! Pull over!"
In a public plea for witnesses to come forward, Grimes wondered aloud last week how anyone could live with himself after randomly shooting a 2-year-old. What could have been going through the shooter's head?
But the split-second decisions made by angry drivers confound rational thought, experts say.
"That's the problem -- nothing goes through their head," said Jerry Rubenstein, who studies road rage and teaches psychiatry at the University of Rochester in New York. "People go from feeling to action. The only choices are fight or flight."
The American Automobile Association's most recent road-rage study, in 1996, counted an average of nearly 1,500 incidents each year. AAA has recorded baseball bats, burritos and folding maps as instruments of road rage, hurled at other drivers.
"If it can be wielded as a weapon, people will use it," said David Willis, who heads AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety. "It's all too easy to lose control in a moment of madness."
By far, guns remain the weapon of choice, he said.
Road rage frustrates law enforcement because it is impulsive, random, anonymous and often committed by noncriminals, Rubenstein said.
Almost anyone can relate to the microsecond of blind anger on a highway that leads to wheel clenching, horn blowing and -- for drivers driven over the edge -- violence.
"In that moment, what they're shooting at isn't a person but an object," Rubenstein said.
In young Anthony's shooting, investigators can say for sure only that the gunman was white and that his car was red and had four doors. They are fairly sure the car was a Ford but have no other certainties -- much less a tag number. They have heard from only one witness.
Meanwhile, the family is considering hiring a private investigator, hoping that someone saw who shot Anthony. Doctors last week gave the boy a 50-50 shot at survival. If he makes it, he will need major reconstructive surgery to repair his face.
"He didn't deserve any of this," said Linda Long, Anthony's grandmother. "The worst thing he ever did in his life was to not pick up his toys."
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