Media outlets seem highly focused on a specific car accident, but the dynamics are still unclear
Just over midnight in Rome during the night of December 22, Gaia Von Freymann and Camilla Romagnoli — both 16-years-old — passed away after being hit by a car driven by Pietro Genovese (20), while they were crossing the large road of Corso Francia. Considering that the number of pedestrians’ death caused by cars is decreasing in Rome, they were not the only victims of this sort of incident. Why so much media attention, then?
Did this news explode because the young boy is the son of a famous director? If so, then it surely does question the way media selects news. This article is to reflect on this happening and as a media source ourselves, I wish to reflect the importance that regardless of the media attention — unreasonably exploded in this case — this news highlights the need to find who’s at fault, rather than focusing instead on the details of what actually happened.
The media likes to blabber, rather than sustain a debate. So this time, let’s debate.
The car accident: jaywalking or not jaywalking?
The incident happened in a wide road split in two by a median, with cars on each side heading in opposite directions. The two girls are said have crossed the road when they were hit by the young driver, Pietro, who was under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The dynamics are unclear; so are the witnesses’ statements. It is still not understood if the girls jaywalked or not.
A witness declared that it could have been avoided and the young driver was tested positive to drugs and alcohol. He had also previously been reported for drug use.
Currently under home arrest, Pietro risks 8 years in prison. Such a strong sentence is said to be determined by the fact that he is a young driver who at the time of the event was under the influence of alcohol. The Court has now requested a professional examination of how the dynamics may have carried out to determine “the fault.” Was it the driver’s irresponsibility or did the girls jaywalk?
What confuses everyone is the fact that the girls body were found quite a few meters ahead of where the light stop is. The girls seem to have passed under a ramp and onto the street. A friend of the girls testified that, “…even I cross the street this way [jaywalking], I’m risking my life.”
The image above reconstructs what seems to have happened. The crosswalk discussed is located at 2 and the bodies were found at 3. Location 1 is where the girls seem to have ossed. Their lawyers support the theory that the girls crossed at the crosswalk (location 2), meanwhile Pietro insists that he was driving at a regular speed and did not see the girls.
Locations 2 and 3 are on the side of the road that heads south, while cars on the other side head north. Hence, the girls were coming from the right side (in reference to the above image) with the cars coming from the girls’ left side.
Did Pietro hit them at location 2 or 3? How did the bodies get from location 2 to 3 if Pietro hit them at the crosswalk?
Two witnesses have yet to be heard: Pietro’s friend who was sitting in the passenger’s seat and another driver who supposedly let the girls cross the road at 3 in front of the car which stayed to the right, next to Pietro who was on the left side of the road. In simple words, he supposedly passed the light (he states it was green at location 2) staying in the left lane, while another car was on the right who let girls go by, while Pietro to the left hit the girls at location 3. The girls’ lawyers insists the girls, however, were at the crosswalk on location 2.
Blaming the light stop
A media outlet questions: could have things gone differently if the crosswalk light had turned yellow instead of turning red immediately? The two girls’ families’ lawyers declared, “…an anomaly” in the crosswalk light: it does not turn yellow; it will only flash during the last three seconds it is green before turning red immediately. In fact, they also stated that, “…the responsibilities have been searched even among other subjects.”
According to the Romagnoli family’s lawyer, Cesare Piraino, “On December 22, the two students [the young girls] began to cross the crosswalk with the green light, they arrived towards the middle [when the light started] flashing […] and after 3 seconds they found themselves in the middle of the road at a red light with nothing else to do but face death.”
Pietro stated to the authorities that he was in the left lane and he passed a green light. This further made the authorities hypothesize that the girls walked when their light was green to then find themselves at a red light in the middle of the street as the car was coming to hit them.
As the image above demonstrates, previous information provided seem to reinforce the validity of the young boy’s statement that he was on the left. And yet the authorities’ hypothesis lacks, to my opinion, some rational explanation.
One of the lawyers defending the girls filmed the video below and it clearly shows that the light does flash for the last 3 seconds while it stays green and immediately turns red instead of allowing some more time to cross as it could turn yellow.
I have personally lived in that area in Rome and can testify that the time allotted to cross is too little. Moreover, for someone who is a regular walker, like these two girls, they would be on the opposite side of the road for the last three seconds.
If they were walking from the same side where the car that hit them was driving, how slow must they have been walking? Did they start to walk towards the crosswalk when the light was already flashing green?
Some elements are out of place: either, as the image above hypothesized, the girls were jaywalking or the driver passed the crosswalk at a red light. These are hypothesis and most probably further facts will arise from other witnesses and cameras in the area.
There is no killer
Gaia’s lawyer and former Minister for the Public Administration, Giulia Bongiorno, said that newspapers should, “resist the temptation to treat these girls like characters of a TV show […] I know the media uses their story to appeal to parents.” However, these girls’ story is not the only one.
Statistics show that all over Italy the number of deaths in the last 10 years caused by car accidents, pedestrians and drivers, (2008-2018) has decreased by 2%, while the number of injuries has dropped by 4%. In Rome in 2019, the police intervened 27,000 times during car accidents, and of those, only 108 were fatal and another 184 caused injuries. The highest number of injuries or death are for pedestrians. So what about these people?
The young man’s lawyers have declared him not to be “the killer that everyone depicts.” And I agree. As I read on a simple post on social media, the person interpreted this incident as three young people who acted irresponsibly and this makes sense with the facts that we do know.
What about the fact that murderers are sentenced to jail for fewer years than Pietro potentially faces, while the number of home arrests have increased for rapists, for instance — leading to a whole other issue of rapists looking for their former victims again? What about those? Those headlines should make our way.
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