drunk driver crashes 1939 Pontiac

Image: David Beaver – WBTV     

What is it about people? We tolerate all kinds of abuses, but don’t let anyone lay a hand on a puppy or a kitten.

And we don’t get mad enough about drunk drivers that ply the roads every day. But if the drunk driver crashes a classic ride, then it’s a tragedy.

Actually, we get it. We’ve evolved to have protective feelings about defenseless creatures like puppies. And in every car lover’s DNA is a sequence that causes untold suffering when a beautiful fender is bent on a fine old machine.

This time it happened in Salisbury, North Carolina. A woman named Cathy Wilhem was driving a 1939 Pontiac when she swerved too far left. She veered right to compensate, and hit a tree.

classic car crash

     How the car should look

The cause of her lack of control was impairment, for which Wilhelm was charged.

The car looks totaled, which is sad. But the true harm was to the owner, who was riding with Wilhelm and who sustained injuries which sent him to the hospital. Cars – even  classics – are replaceable things. People aren’t, and it is primarily for the protection of people that we try to prevent drunk driver crashes through DWI laws, ignition interlocks, and other measures.

We might well ask what possessed the owner of such a fine car to let a drunk person drive it. But we have to ask anyone who drinks and drives what they imagine justifies such a dangerous practice. Is life that cheap that it’s worth saving taxi fare to risk it?

If it takes puppies and kittens to get people stirred up, so be it. If it takes the sight of a beautiful classic car mangled on a North Carolina road to get people to understand the recklessness of drunk driving, then so be it. If you can’t work up sympathy for the victims, think of all those beautiful cars that meet a terrible end because someone failed to use a designated driver.

Next time we’ll talk about the tree they hit. Trees deserve better too.

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