Don’t Blame the Victim: 1995 and 2023

In November 2023, when a driver struck a pedestrian near Bishops Corner intersection, the West Hartford Police Department issued a press release that they ticketed the pedestrian for “reckless use of the highway.” While we don’t yet know details about this particular crash, the Bike West Hartford board wrote how we recognized a familiar pattern: people quickly point fingers at the victim.

Journalist Daniela Altimari reminded us of a related incident in West Hartford nearly three decades ago. In June 1995, a trash truck driver backed up and struck two pedestrians on Mohawk Drive, killing Annette Winnick and seriously harming Helen Rosenfield. The West Hartford Police Department cited the surviving pedestrian for violating the law by “walking in the road,” even though a nearby sidewalk was under construction. After the controversy over what many called a highly insensitive action, the Town of West Hartford settled a $4.25 million dollar lawsuit with the pedestrians and their families.