You Can Run over a Child in Massachusetts


ACRU Staff


September 27, 2007

The facts for this story, but not the legal conclusions, come from a column in the Boston Herald on 27 September.

On September 26th, Antonio Montenegro ran over a child on a bicycle in a crosswalk, in Lynnfield, Massachusetts. Montenegro is an illegal immigrant who has been driving without a license for eight years. Onlookers forced him to stop when he ran over 12-year-old Zachary Titus, who was on his bicycle..

Zachary suffered a broken leg, but is otherwise okay. What happened to Montenegro is what’s interesting. Original media reports that he was “released on his own recognizance” are false. It was worse than that. He was never arrested in the first place. He was given two tickets, one for driving without a license and the other for “failure to yield at a crosswalk.”

The day after the arrest, the Lynnfield police claimed that Montenegro presented a visa that showed who he was. This is contradicted by Montenegro himself, who told a local TV station he “could not get a license because he was in the country illegally.” He further said that he’d been in the country illegally for eight years, and that he’d built up a painting business, which owned the van that he drove over Zachary Titus and his bicycle.

The local police said there was nothing else they could or should have done. This writer has not curled up with the Massachusetts Criminal Code for an evening of light reading. However, I am fairly certain that it is illegal to run over a child in a crosswalk, even in the liberal bastion of Massachusetts. Breaking a child’s leg certainly qualifies as “great bodily harm,” a phrase that the common law – which Massachusetts follows – uses to draw a line between a technical harm, and one that is really serious.

The only reason why this man was not arrested, fingerprinted, and photographed front and side, is that the local police apparently thought it would be politically incorrect to arrest this gentleman because he was, after all, an “undocumented immigrant” who was “working hard to better himself.”

If there is reason and logic in Massachusetts – bear with me, this might somehow happen – Montenegro should be arrested on the more serious charge of running over the child. The Police Chief of Lynnfield should be encouraged to seek alternative employment. And the parents of the child should sue this illegal driver back to the Stone Age before he is deported.

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