Dead Man’s Curve, it’s no place to play. Dead Man’s Curve, you best keep away. Jan and Dean released the tragic surf ballad “Dead Man’s Curve” fifty years ago describing a fatal street-racing crash on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Though the events of the song were fictional, the stretch of road was all too real, and it took a series of automobile accidents to spur the City of Los Angeles to restructure the road and remedy the deathtrap.
The intersection of Avenue I and Bowers Boulevard may not have the traffic or fame of the Angelino bend, but the precarious crossing claimed the lives of three students a month ago.
College shouldn’t be a place where students come to die. Unfortunately on Dec. 14, this wasn’t the case for Blanca Espinal, Eric Torres and Alfanso Mata, as the trio were killed in an on-campus car crash the morning of graduation.
In the wake of any preventable tragedy, finger pointing abounds, and much of the blame casting is centered on the university’s botched response in the aftermath.
A tersely morbid Facebook post included the words “graduation ceremonies and ACT Testing will take place as scheduled,” signaling business as usual in the perfectly tone-deaf manner apropos of bureaucratic entities.
Of course the most obvious flub was using shoddy police work to ID the victims.
One of the cardinal rules of crisis management is to not misidentify the bereaved. Unfortunately for the parents of Roberto Rodriguez Guerra, the university failed to pass this breathtakingly low benchmark by earnestly and publicly stating that Guerra was among the victims, when he was actually alive. That sort of mistake leaves an institution open to lawsuits.
According to a report in The Houstonian, the police misidentified Guerra, because an iPod of his was found at the scene. Leaving aside the privacy implications of an officer thumbing through the treasure trove of data contained within an iPod without a warrant, using that data as the exclusive basis for identifying a victim doesn’t scream Hercule Poirot or even Scooby-Doo.
Policy changes to curtail these errors would certainly be a step in the right direction, but getting the names of the deceased right won’t bring anyone back from the grave. Admittedly, fixing an intersection comprised of two 90 degree turns in quick succession isn’t going to bring anyone back either, but altering the clusterfark at Avenue I and Bowers Boulevard could very well prevent another tragedy.
According to the SHSU Master Plan, the university will eventually limit the intersection to pedestrian traffic, but why wait? Spend a couple of weeks letting the public know that vehicles will be prohibited and close it by the end of January. The university has no need for any more students who don’t come back from Dead Man’s Curve.