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Thanksgiving turnpike speeder safely hospitalized for now

April 18, 2014 - Paul Giannamore
Without too much surprise, the young man who is accused of sending an elderly Ohio couple to their fiery deaths in their minivan while driving home on Thanksgiving night on the Ohio Turnpike has been declared incompetent to stand trial.

Andrew Gans, 24, of Kent, was evaluated in mid-March after his not guilty by reasson of insanity plea was entered back in December. He will be evaluated again after another quarter of the year slips by. In the meantime, attempts to make him competent will take place at the Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital in Toledo, according to the website.

In case you forgot, Gans is accused of crossing much of Ohio at extra-extralegal speeds, as in, he was estimated to have covered as much as 60 miles from the first report of somebody speeding on the Turnpike at 6:57 p.m. until he slammed into the minivan of Wilbur and Margaret McCoy, sometime after the last report of a speeding maniac was made at 7:16 p.m.

Gans is said to have lost his parents in the year prior to the accident. He told police he had been drinking and taking drugs but toxicology test results showed no evidence of alcohol or drugs from the time of the accident.

I get pretty darned angry about responsibility behind the wheel. And frightened about it.

We live in a society where the hyper-rich will use “affluenza” as a defense, but where the right to drive is considered as some kind of guarantee for all who have enough mental acumen to grab the keys and start the car.

And irresponsibility is just one factor. Consider all the drug arrests and the mental defects reported as the reason for so many crimes, it could be the driver blowing by you at twice your speed just might be high or suffering from dementia.

Or it could be the driver is one special kind of trouble like Mr. Gans.

Because according to his attorney, quoted in a story in the Toledo Blade, Mr. Gans had brain surgeries in his youth and had prior psychiatric care in his young life.

Which again brings up my question stated less than eloquently in a fit of blogging anger in January: What can we do to prevent people who don’t belong behind the wheel from being behind the wheel?

They drive among us, filled with heroin or meth, or with their vehicles filled with heroin and meth on the way to be delivered. They're drunk. They have criminal loot. They're angry at a spouse. Or maybe they just feel the world entitles them speedier passage than everyone else on the road, regardless of the road conditions.

If Gans is not found competent after a year, he could become a ward of the state.

That might be the best outcome for drivers, getting one of the unknowns off the street.

Then again, when we drive, keep in mind that we’re the only person whose actions we know.

Or as exemplified by Mr. Gans, maybe we don’t.


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