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Turnpike crash defense only proves anyone can drive in Ohio
January 3, 2014 - Paul Giannamore
Last month, when I went off on the Ohio Turnpike Idiot, a kid who drove at extralegal speeds and only stopped when he brought a fiery hell to a couple in their 70s in a minivan on Thanksgiving night, I had no thought of where the case might go. I was just upset by the haunting thought that an elderly couple driving home on a Thanksgiving night had their lives ended in a hellish inferno without, perhaps, ever seeing what caused it.
Well, the issue is much bigger than just the kid and his expensive car. While we were off Christmasing, Andrew Gans, 24, of Kent, entered a not guilty by reason of insanity plea to charges of vehicular homicide in the deaths of Wilbur and Margaret McCoy, 77, of Toledo.
His attorney said Gans has had several in-patient hospitalizations for psychiatric issues, including having undergone brain surgery for the removal of a tumor or cyst when he was younger.
Which makes it harder to portray Mr. Gans as the devil behind the wheel, perhaps, but then the question becomes, what the hell can we do as Buckeye State residents to keep people who shouldn’t be driving from being behind the wheel. Because if Mr. Gans truly has a mental defect that would cause him not to recognize that covering nearly half the width of the state’s northern tier in under an hour or so is wrong, then he should not have had the keys to a golf cart, let alone to a powerful automobile, or an Ohio driver’s license.
We fight over gun control and the mental state of people who buy AR-15s and then go off to shoot up middle schools. We argue and cajole about the need for better application processes for gun licenses and concealed-carry courses and smaller magazines and bans on armor-piercing bullets.
But who the hell decides if a guy with a mental history should have the keys to an Inifiniti M-56?
And who among those of us in our right minds would want further restrictions on the ability to get a driver’s license? After all, it’s a right of passage in America, something available to the child of every meth-headed loon and hardworking goofball, every kid from a family that can barely afford a pair of dollar-store sandals to those from families that can give the kid the keys to an Infinity M-56.
Americans would never, ever, take to having their right to drive impinged upon more than Ohio’s occasional eye test or signing a form that says the driver has insurance for his registered motor vehicle, even without having to provide proof of such insurance.
Every fool gets the right to drive if he can brake, use turn signals and back between a couple of cones. Trust me, I did a couple years as a driver’s ed instructor. Everyone, even those who maybe shouldn’t, can get a driver’s license in Ohio. Gans is being held in a Toledo psychiatric hospital and being treated with antipsychotic drugs. A report will be done before the end of this month to determine if he is competent enough to help in his defense. Bond is $1 million. If he is determined incompetent, the court could delay the case a year to see if he can be made competent. And if a year goes by and he still is unable to aid in his defence, Gans could be institutionalized by the court, according to the Lancaster Eagle Gazette.
Gans’ attorney says the kid’s parents are both deceased; that he is a college graduate and unable to find work. The four counts against him include a pair with specifications about being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
For now, it could be a defense ruse or it could be that a for-real, mentally ill man had the keys to a car capable of more than 140 mph and the blurred will to explore that capability.
It’s a free society.
And they not only walk among us but drive among us.
Enjoy the ride.
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