Commentary

Saunders: Driver seems to hit geese on purpose, stirs anger

bsaunders@newsobserver.comJune 17, 2013 

The poor mother goose was simply trying to get the flock across the street when three of her charges were struck by a car that didn’t brake, didn’t swerve, didn’t stop.

B.J. Lyman and several motorists behind him on Laura Duncan Road in Apex on Father’s Day did stop, though – both before and after a light blue SUV struck the birds, mortally injuring at least one.

Anyone who knows me knows that I always try to see the best in humankind, so I asked Lyman if there was any possibility that the driver didn’t see the geese or was unaware that he hit them.

“Uh, no. Absolutely not,” Lyman said. “There was quite a queue time between when he came upon the birds, and I had been in place for easily 15 seconds with the hazard lights on.

“There was nobody in the opposite direction until he came barreling along. He had full line-of-sight. It’s not as though he was cresting a hill. ... There’s just not a chance in my opinion” that he didn’t see the gaggle of geese.

“I wouldn’t even call it a swerve,” he said. “In some opinions, it was almost like he deliberately tried to run them down. These birds were in his way and he would’ve needed to stop” to let them pass. “He wasn’t going to stop.”

‘I was horrified’

Yikes. Anyone who had a heart would’ve stopped and let a mama goose and her goslings cross the road, but what, I asked, made Lyman stop, tend to the most severely injured animal, call police and then transport the injured animal to the hospital?

“I was horrified,” he said. “It was a horrific scene. ... I think I would feel differently if the gentleman had earnestly made a mistake and pulled over as others did. ... But this guy stared back at me as I stared at him and he gladly drove on to the intersection and disappeared.”

Indeed, in a letter directed to the lead-footed, scene-leaving lout, Lyman wrote, “I watched in amazement as one goose was trapped under your vehicle, tumbling and spit-out to the side of the road unable to move. Unaffected by your actions you sped on, even glared at me as I stared you down.

“I only wish that I had (had) the composure to have gotten your license plate number, but I was in shock and pre-occupied with the thoughts of what to do next to help these birds. I take comfort that someone who was following you ... (and there were several) was also aghast (and) they did get your license plate number and has already reported you to the authorities.”

‘Like hitting a deer’

But even if someone does report him, it’s unlikely he would face any punishment. An employee at the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission who only gave her first name – “You’d be surprised at how many people call up here and threaten us,” she explained – said the driver “doesn’t have to stop” after hitting a goose. “It’s like hitting a deer.”

Witnesses who thought it was intentional, she said, would have to call police, who would then have to investigate it.

Lyman said, “A stranger stopped by and introduced herself as a veterinary technician. ... Her assessment was that the bird had a spinal injury given the way the animal was leaning on one side and unable to (move) its legs.”

He said he called Apex Police, who sent an officer to end the bird’s suffering. The officer, though, he said, didn’t want to kill the bird in front of passersby – many of whom were children – who’d stopped.

They took the goose to the Animal Emergency Hospital & Urgent Care in Raleigh where, a spokeswoman told me, “it was euthanized due to its injuries.”

bsaunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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