TIME tragedy

Ticket Waived for Teen Who Dozed at Wheel in Fatal Car Wreck

Five of his family members were killed in the accident

A ticket will be waived for a teen who dozed off at the wheel, causing a car crash that took the lives of five of his family members.

The Texas teen, whose name has not been released, said he fell asleep at the wheel of his family’s car around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The family was driving through Louisiana at the time, on their way to Disney World in Florida for Thanksgiving.

The car hit the median and ultimately flipped, causing six of the eight people in the car to be ejected from the vehicle. Five of those family members died. They included parents Michael and Trudi Hardman, and kids Dakota Watson, 15, Kaci Hardman, 4, and Adam Hardman, 7.

The driver was initially issued a ticket for the accident, but that was then waived. “This young man has been punished enough,” Louisiana Fourth Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones said, The News Star reports. “There is no need to add to his pain. The ticket will be dismissed.”

[The News Star]

TIME Baseball

St. Louis Cardinals Slugger Oscar Taveras Dies in Car Crash

Oscar Taveras
This May 31, 2014 file photo shows St. Louis Cardinals' Oscar Taveras smiling after the Cardinals' 2-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants in St. Louis. Jeff Roberson—AP

The 22-year-old outfielder lost control of his car on a highway in the Dominican Republic

American baseball lost one of its rising stars Sunday, after St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic.

The Associated Press reported that Taveras lost control of his Chevrolet Camaro on a highway about 215 miles from the country’s capital Santo Domingo. The 22-year-old player was not carrying any documents at the time of the accident, but his body was identified by his family members. Taveras’ girlfriend, named as 18-year-old Edilia Arvelo, also perished in the crash.

“I simply can’t believe it,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said in a press release, while the team’s chairman, Bill DeWitt Jr., said they were all “stunned and deeply saddened” by the loss.

“Oscar was an amazing talent with a bright future who was taken from us well before his time,” DeWitt said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends tonight.”

Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig also issued a statement mourning Taveras’ loss. “All of us throughout Major League Baseball are in mourning this evening, shocked by the heartbreaking news of the accident involving Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend in the Dominican Republic,” Selig said.

Taveras signed with the Cardinals in 2008, and made his major league debut this year after previously being ranked as Major League Baseball’s No. 3 overall prospect.

[AP]

MONEY Insurance

Why Even a Fair Insurance Claim Will Send Customers Packing

The insurance claims process is so painful and outdated that about half of customers who confront it bolt no matter what.

The financial services industry has been among the slowest to embrace the mobile and other technologies that many consumers crave. Within the industry, insurers probably have been slowest—and their old-fashioned ways are stirring a high level of churn.

Insurance customers are generally pleased with their provider. Only 14% of those who submitted a claim in the past two years are unhappy with how it was handled, according to a report from Accenture. As you might expect, a high rate of those—83%—plan to switch providers. But even among the vast majority who filed a claim and were satisfied, 41% say they are likely to switch insurers in the next 12 months, the report found.

Why would satisfied customers switch? In general, their claims experience, while satisfactory, left them feeling it should have been better. “The bar has been raised and insurers now need to handle claims in a way that not only satisfies policyholders but also differentiates them from other insurers,” says Michael Costonis, global head of claims services at Accenture, a research and consulting firm.

Technology exists that would greatly streamline the claims process, he says. Consumers understand that, and when they file a claim and confront the old way of doing things they resolve to look for something better. For example, Costonis says, in the case of an auto accident, sensors could summon assistance automatically, notify a garage, and get a tow truck on the scene—all without a phone call. Your car could be fixed and delivered to your door, and if any money was due to you it might be put in your account without the tedious paperwork.

Customers expect quick claims and fair pricing. But they also want transparency and this is where technology can make a big difference. “More and more, especially with younger customers, this takes the form of providing anywhere, anytime access online or through mobile apps,” Costonis says. In the study, 44% said they would switch providers to be able to use digital channels to monitor the claims process.

Broader use of technology could help in other ways too. Three in four customers are willing to share more personal information in order to get better rates, the study found. Insurers could easily gather information about the condition of cars and customer driving habits. They could also gather information collected by smoke, carbon monoxide, humidity, and motion detectors. Such data could help them help their customers manage risks and wind up filing fewer claims—and that is the Holy Grail because customers hate the process and insurers lose a high percentage of those who file a claim no matter what.

Related: How to make sure you have enough insurance coverage

TIME celebrities

The Rock’s Mother Survived a Car Crash and He Posted Pictures of It

Says they were hit "head on by a drunk driver"

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson posted an image of the car wreck that nearly killed his mother and cousin to Instagram on Sunday. The wrestler-turned-actor also tweeted about the incident, saying his family had been hit “head on by a drunk driver.”

The picture, above, included the caption, “My mom & cousin @linafanene were struck head on by a drunk driver this week – they lived. First reaction is to find the person who did this and do unrelenting harm to them. But then you realize the most important thing is my family lived thru this and we can hug each other that much tighter these days. Hug your own family tighter today and be grateful you can tell them you love them.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Johnson’s cousin, WWE NXT Diva Lina Fanene, or his mother, Ata Johnson, sustained any injuries in the accident.

TIME World Cup

Charlie Davies Embraces Reality, Maintains Hope, While Watching USA

Charlie Davies Team USA
Charlie Davies celebrates scoring the first goal against Egypt at the FIFA Federations Cup in Rustenburg, South Africa, on June 21, 2009. Michael Regan - FIFA—FIFA/Getty Images

Davies was a rising US soccer star for the 2010 World Cup team when he was severely injured in a car accident

sportsillustrated

By Ben Reiter

HINGHAM, Mass. – Of course he still thinks about the decision he made on that October night in Washington, D.C., four and a half years ago. How could he not? He was 23 years old then and a budding star, a striker who had already used his world-class speed to score and contribute to goals of a quality that seemed new for the U.S. national team.

There was the blitzkrieg two-man counterattack, in which he delivered a perfect cross to Landon Donovan for the finish, against Brazil in the 2009 Confederations Cup final. There was his strike against Mexico, in a World Cup qualifier at Estadio Azteca, two months later. The following summer, he was certain to start up front with his close friend, Jozy Altidore. The two seemed sure to form a formidable speed and power combination, and to repeatedly perform their celebratory Stanky Leg dance, not just in that World Cup in South Africa but in how many to come? Two? Three? More?

USA’s chaotic group stretch ends with win-feeling loss and knockout berth

“Sometimes I think about how I went into a 50-50 challenge against Ramires, of Chelsea, when we played Brazil,” Charlie Davies says. “And I’m beasting him, running by him, running by Lucio, running by these world-class players. And I’m thinking, what happened to me?”

He knows what happened, even if he doesn’t recall much of it. He got into a car after 3 a.m. with two women he didn’t know, and whom, he says, he didn’t know were drunk. He clicked in his seatbelt. The next thing he remembers, he was lying in a hospital bed believing that he was still in Honduras, where the U.S. had days before clinched their World Cup berth. He looked down at the 36 staples in his abdomen and thought that he had been kidnapped by organ harvesters. His first instinct was to use his speed to run away, before they got anything else, but he couldn’t run, not with a broken tibia and femur, a fractured elbow, a lacerated bladder, bleeding on the brain and a smashed-in face.

He should have died. The other passenger did, as the car was sheared in half when it struck a guardrail on the George Washington Parkway in the Washington, D.C., area. Somehow he survived, but his life was forever changed by a decision that, as poor as it was, likely would have turned out fine most of the time, except that time it didn’t. Perhaps Davies would by now be playing for his beloved Arsenal. Tottenham and Everton were already scouting him, before his accident. Perhaps he’d already have produced a reel full of World Cup highlights.

“I feel like 2010 would’ve really been my breakout, and that this World Cup would have been the one in which I would have really made a difference,” he says.

But Davies wasn’t on the field in Brazil for the national team as it faced Germany on Thursday, with an entry into the knockout stage in the offing, and he wasn’t on the bench either. Instead, he watched the game from his three-story townhouse in this Boston suburb – some 4,100 miles north of Recife – on a couch with his wife, Nina, an assistant fashion stylist; his younger brother, Justin, a soccer coach and administrator at Northeastern; and his dog, a Maltese named Nala. He wore an old national team jersey of his, a white one, and Nina wore a blue one. She hadn’t realized, when she had put it on, that it was his jersey from the Honduras game, which was the very last one in which he played for the United States.

Watching the U.S. play was painful for Davies in the summer of 2010. He emerged from the hospital with the goal of regaining his spot on the team, but his French club team, Sochaux, wouldn’t medically clear him for Bob Bradley’s camp, and he now admits that even then it would have been far beyond his still broken body anyway. Even so, he took in every game on TV, and when the team called him from its riotous locker room after a miraculous stoppage-time goal by Donovan against Algeria sent it through to the knockout rounds, he felt like he was still a part of it. Later, Donovan would tell him that had he been healthy and paired with Altidore, there was no way that they would have been knocked out by Ghana.

His doctors and therapists marveled at how quickly he reached a baseline level of recovery, with a damaged brain and a body so filled with metal – in his legs and in his face, the skin of which surgeons had to peel back so they could reconstruct its fine bones – that he frequently set off airport detectors (He was once pulled into a back room by the TSA in Miami and forced to strip). He had to relearn how to walk, how to dress himself, how to eat, how to talk. He did it fast, and he thought that regaining his soccer form would come next.

That proved a different sort of challenge. He returned to training with Sochaux in April of 2010, just six months after the accident, and he realized he wasn’t the same.

“What I had hoped for and expected, it was just kind of gone,” he says. He didn’t have the speed, he couldn’t hold off defenders. He would try to perform his favorite move – fake left, go right – but his body refused to do what his mind wanted it to. He’d spend possession drills hiding in a corner of the field, praying no one would pass him the ball, and he would hear his teammates asking each other, in French, why he was on the field with them at all.

USA set to ‘really get started’ after reaching World Cup knockout stage

He fought his body for the next four years, as he bounced from Sochaux to D.C. United and back, and then to Randers, in the Danish league. He had his moments – he scored 11 goals for D.C. in 2011 – but things always ended badly. His form kept deserting him, along with his confidence. His body kept betraying him.

Last August, he was loaned back to Major League Soccer, to the New England Revolution. By February, with a new season about to begin, he felt certain that he was finally all the way back. His legs were as strong as ever, and his coach, Jay Heaps, said that he was the fastest player on the team. He started to dream that he might receive a call from Jurgen Klinsmann.

“I know I’ll succeed when I play, which is something I haven’t felt for a long time,” he said then. “If I start off with eight to 10 goals in the first quarter of the MLS season, why not think there’s a chance for me to get into the World Cup camp? It’s not like there’s an abundance of proven goal scorers on the national team.”

Then, though, he felt a twinge in his calf, a recurring strain that would put an end to that idea – and one that might be a lingering effect of the accident, which left his right leg an inch and a half shorter than his left, and tilted slightly outward. His MLS season with the Revolution has so far consisted of three substitute appearances totaling 91 minutes, although he did return to the field this week after a lengthy absence. It was 30 minutes against the USL Pro’s Rochester Rhinos in the U.S. Open Cup, however, a tournament some rungs down from the ongoing one in Brazil.

Although he finds himself imagining the runs he would make and the shots he would fire were he playing in this World Cup, he has found the experience of watching it to be easier than last time.

“At this point, I feel like more of a fan,” he says. “I’ve really enjoyed watching every single game. I’m so supportive of the U.S. team. I don’t have any resentment that I’m not there.”

As the U.S. prepared to play Germany on Thursday, with its Group of Death fate still in the balance, Davies had an idea as to how they would go about things, even as many members of the soccer cognoscenti theorized that Klinsmann and his old protégé, German coach Joachim Löw, would conspire for a gentleman’s draw. A tie would send both teams through; a defeat could mean that the loser might be knocked out, depending on what happened in the concurrent Ghana-Portugal match.

“You approach the game knowing obviously that a point, a draw, and you go through,” he said. “But if you play like that, sit back and let Germany come at you, eventually they’re going to score. So you want to play for the win. The key is not taking unnecessary risks. Do I take this ball and run down the line when there’s not many people with me, and put the team in a bad position? You don’t do that. This is a time you have to be secure and safe, always make the safe play.

“My prediction,” Davies continued, “is that we advance. Whether they draw, win, lose, I think it’s going to be enough.”

There was one German who concerned him more than any other. “Thomas Müller,” he said, of Die Mannschaft’s 24-year-old striker. “His movement is so dangerous. He’s the kind of guy, he gets a chance and he scores.”

The U.S. followed Davies’ script through the first half, playing it safe and weathering an early series of furious German attacks to keep the game scoreless. It was clear, though, that no détente had been reached between the coaches, and in the 55th minute the Germans broke through. It came, as Davies had predicted, on a thundering strike from Müller.

“Knew it,” Davies said. “That’s as good as it gets on a finish. We need to make a substitution – take out Brad Davis, our midfielder, probably, and put in somebody with more pace. I’m looking for Alejandro Bedoya.”

Four minutes later, Bedoya trotted onto the field, replacing Davis. By then, Ghana had leveled the score of its match with Portugal at 1-1, and the situation was fraught. One more unanswered goal by Ghana would doom the U.S. on goal differential.

That had Davies thinking of other another substitution to which Klinsmann might have turned, in an alternate reality. He’d thought about the same thing when the game was tight against Portugal.

World Cup Knockout Stage Power Rankings: Chances to win it all

“Of course I think about it,” he said. “You’re just like, man, if I had the chance, I think I could do well. Last game, for instance, against Portugal, the game really opened up. Portugal was pushing for a goal, and Klinsmann brought on Chris Wondolowski and DeAndre Yedlin. They did fantastic, for what they were asked to do. But I just know that in that certain situation – and in this one against Germany too – I think I would have really taken off just because of what the game needed, which was a striker who could hold up the ball. Maybe with my speed I could create some go-ahead chances and maybe gotten the goal that would have put things out of reach.”

Davies also thought of another name Klinsmann might have called: that of Landon Donovan, whom he shockingly left off the roster.

“It’s sad, really,” Davies said. “Everyone knows what a career he’s had, but he could still make a difference, still impact the game. For him to not be one of the 23 guys, as a fan, as a friend of his, you want to see him take part in the World Cup. Absolutely, I think he could have helped here. He’s a perfect substitution.”

It wasn’t long, though, before the U.S. got the help it needed from an unlikely ally. Cristiano Ronaldo, whose last-minute cross on Sunday turned a certain U.S. win into a draw, put Portugal ahead 2-1 over Ghana in the 80th minute, all but clinching advancement for the Americans.

“I think his knee’s really bothering him, and that he’s in a lot of pain,” Davies said, of the slick-haired superstar. “I don’t feel like he’s got a lot of movement in these games. But he’s done whatever’s necessary – and he’s so talented that when it matters, he can still get it done, despite it all.”

Soon, the U.S. team was celebrating on the field in Recife. In Hingham, Davies and his wife and brother were politely clapping, as the dog jumped around, startled. It was time to focus on the future.

“I think we’ll beat Belgium,” Davies said, of the U.S.’s next opponent. “Who would we have after that?” On cue, the draw flashed on the television: Argentina, most likely. Davies inhaled. “Realistically, I’d say we get to the quarterfinals,” he said. “Hope we get further.”

It was also time to think about what might come next for him. He knows how easy it is to imagine what his career would have been like if he had not gotten into that car on that night in D.C. “Would mine and Jozy’s partnership have been talked about worldwide, for 10 years?” But he also knows, as well as anyone, how life has a way of upending expectations.

Altidore’s 2014 World Cup, after all, lasted 21 minutes, before he was felled by a badly strained hamstring in his team’s opening match against Ghana.

“We texted, and he was definitely down,” Davies said. “He felt like this was going to be the World Cup to launch him to that next level. I think everyone thought that was a strong possibility, due to the fact that he was coming into form at the right time, and that this formation really caters to him.”

Davies’s hope of partnering with Altidore on the world’s biggest stage is not over. He is already looking to 2018, in Russia.

“I’ll be 31,” he says. “That’s the goal. I’d be fine with just that.”

He also dreams of playing under Klinsmann.

“I think he’d be a fantastic coach for me,” he says. “One of the best strikers in the world, and a guy that I’d learn a lot from and is always giving you constant support.”

He knows that he has a long way to go – years of playing consistently well, at a high level. He is reminded of that every time he looks into the mirror and sees a body and a scalp cut with scars, and chipped teeth, and a face that is different from the one that he used to have, before it was rebuilt. He used to look like his brother; he doesn’t anymore. “I think he looks cuter than ever now,” says Nina.

Most of the time, Davies focuses not on what he doesn’t have, but on what he does. His wife, whom he met in Christian theology class during their freshman year at Boston College, and who stuck with him and supported him through it all. His family. His house. His dog. His career in professional soccer, which retains so much potential.

“There’s nothing I want that I don’t already have, and I’m not so sure what happened wasn’t for the best,” he says. “I’m a different person, a better person for it. I feel like I’ve aged 15 years through this experience. I’m much more emotional now. I never used to cry, and now I’ll just cry watching something sad.

“I’m alive still,” he continues. “I wake up happy every day. I’m happier than I’ve ever been, because I can appreciate everything that much more. I don’t take anything for granted, whether it’s the taste of food, being able to go to the movies.”

A life, really, is an endless series of decisions. Sometimes the decisions that seem big end up having little impact. Sometimes the ones that seem small change everything. You take one section of Christian theology over another, and you meet someone. You accept an offer of a ride back to a team hotel from a stranger, and you don’t make it.

Charlie Davies’ decision in the early morning hours of Oct. 13, 2009, sent his life careening off course, and it took U.S. Soccer and its fans with it. One day, perhaps in Russia, he might again play, and play well, for his country. He believes that it will happen. If it doesn’t? If the national team jersey that his wife wore on Thursday ultimately proves the last to ever bear his name? He will be fine with that, too.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME

Yes, You Could Forget Your Kid in the Car—I Did

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Flickr RF/Getty Images

Another sad story of a child dying from being left in a hot car should remind us of one thing: it could happen to any parent

“Oh my God, what a horrible parent. I would NEVER let that happen!”

This is a common refrain shouted across the Internet when summer inevitably brings a smattering of tragic stories involving young children who die after a parent forgets they’re in the car. This time it was 33-year-old Justin Ross Harris of Georgia, who apparently forgot to drop his 22-month-old son off at daycare on Wednesday, leaving him in the searing backseat of his SUV for seven hours while his dad was at work. Harris has been charged with murder.

Perhaps it’s human nature to automatically assign blame, or the simple power of denial in convincing yourself you would never forget your child – which is understandable. But it’s also inaccurate. I can tell you in brutal, intimate honesty, because it happened to me.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 25 kids every year die from similar incidents; this year, that count is already at 13. There is of course no stat on the number of kids who get forgotten, but then remembered in enough time to survive. If you have the emotional fortitude to read Gene Weingarten’s Pulitzer Prize-winning piece on the subject, you’ll see it happens to moms, dads, parents young and old.

I won’t sit here and tell you I’m a great parent, but I’m not a bad one. I love my kids and they are my world. I take great pains to make sure they are kept safe and out of harm’s way, and yet… I’m human. That’s what we are. Our perpetual capacity to make mistakes is innate, and should be reason not to judge.

Six years ago, when my oldest was born, I was his primary caregiver. I worked full time but my schedule was flexible, and my wife made most of the money. That meant I had the privilege of making him breakfast, getting him ready, and doing all the drop off/pick up from daycare. And I had my routine that went like clockwork every day.

Every day except Wednesday.

I had Wednesdays off, and one of my relatives was nice enough to come down for a few hours and help me out by watching Will. I used this time to run errands, go to the gym, and decompress from the standard pressure of raising a 10-month-old.

But on this specific Wednesday, she couldn’t come. And since errands wait for no man, I had to take Will with me to all the stores on my list. I remember feeling very grateful he fell asleep just before we left, and even stayed asleep as I transitioned him into the car seat. Then, just like every other hump day, my mind wandered to the litany of things I had to do and places I needed to be.

It was winter in Massachusetts, and temperatures were in the single digits. As I parked the car I was more intent on bracing myself for the arctic blast of cold air than anything else. I took a deep breath, pushed the door open, and hustled out into the deep freeze. As I got to the door of the grocery store—roughly 50 feet from the car—I kicked myself. I had forgotten my shopping list on the passenger seat.

Oh, and one other thing.

When I realized what else I had forgotten, I learned the true meaning of “panic attack.” I just stood there, paralyzed by a deeper fear than I have ever known. I could try to sugarcoat it by saying I was sleep-deprived and out of my normal routine—factual statements—but there was no denying another fact: I simply forgot about my son. If not for remembering the grocery list, there is a very good chance my boy would’ve been frozen to death upon my return.

I’m a writer. More specifically, I’m a parent blogger. That means I’ve detailed some very personal and often humiliating stories. Yet it wasn’t until yesterday that I told my wife this happened, and it’s taken six years to get the courage to post it publicly. The shame was just too great.

There are times when parents leave kids to die in cars because they’re doing drugs. With cases of clear neglect I have little difficulty joining the masses in summoning righteous anger and outrage. (And in Harris’s case, the investigation has not at this time been completed.) But when well-meaning parents have a tragic memory lapse that leads to a lifetime of guilt, shame, and blame, I can’t help but muster up some sympathy and recall that day six years ago.

The day a missing grocery list was the only thing that prevented me and my son from becoming a headline. And I’m willing to bet I’m not alone in the close-call department.

 

Aaron Gouveia is a husband, father of two boys, and writes for his site, The Daddy Files.

TIME General Motors

GM’s Mary Barra Back in the Hot Seat on Capitol Hill

GM CEO Mary Barra Testifies At House Hearing On Ignition Switch Recall
General Motors CEO Mary Barra (L), and Anton Valukas, head of GM's internal recall investigation, field questions while testifying during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

"It is enormously painful to have our shortcomings laid out so vividly," General Motors CEO told lawmakers at a hearing over defective engine parts

General Motors CEO Mary Barra was grilled by lawmakers over a lethal defect in vehicle ignition switches once again Wednesday, expressing regret for lax oversight, while promising skeptical lawmakers that quality controls had improved across the company.

Lawmakers on the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations criticized GM managers for fostering a “culture of secrecy” that allowed knowledge of defective engine parts to remain concealed within the company for more than a decade.

Faults in the ignition switches have been linked to 56 accidents in which car engines and air bags suddenly switched off while the car was in motion. GM has admitted faulty switches played a role in 13 deaths, though advocates have claimed more lost their lives.

Barra, who had already appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in April, called the findings of an internal investigation into the ignition switch defects “brutally tough and deeply troubling.”

“For those of us who have dedicated our lives to this company, it is enormously painful to have our shortcomings laid out so vividly,” Barra said in her opening statement to the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. She said the company has since fired 15 employees and beefed up its staff of safety investigators.

Skeptical lawmakers pressed Barra on the extent of the fixes. “You mentioned 15 were fired,” Rep. Timothy Murphy (R-Penn.) said to Barra, “99.999 percent, if my math is right, of the people [still at GM] are the same … If you haven’t changed the people, how do you change the culture?”

The questioning narrowed in on the role of senior managers, including Barra, who claimed to have no knowledge of the faulty switches until 2014. “That the most senior GM executives may not have known about a defect that caused more than a dozen deaths is frankly alarming and does not absolve them of responsibility for this tragedy,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.). The company’s “culture of secrecy” must be changed, she added.

Lawmakers also raised concerns about GM’s successive waves of recalls. GM has issued 44 recalls for 20 million vehicles worldwide. GM says defects related to more recent recall notices have not been linked to any known deaths or injuries. Nonetheless, Rep. Murphy called the most recent call, on Monday, “hauntingly similar to the Cobalt ignition switch recall.”

Barra said GM was currently preparing a compensation fund for victims families that would begin processing claims by Aug. 1st. “I want this terrible experience permanently etched in our collective memories,” Barra said.

TIME Malaysia

Malaysian Opposition Figure Killed in Car Crash

In this April 28, 2008 file photo, Democratic Action Party Chairman Karpal Singh speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Lai Seng Sin—AP

Karpal Singh, one of the leading lights of Malaysia's opposition movement, has died in an accident that also claimed the life of his personal assistant and left three others injured, two of them critically

A veteran Malaysian opposition politician was killed in an automobile accident Thursday while traveling with his son and two other passengers, according to Malaysia’s The Star. Karpal Singh, who was also a prominent lawyer, was 74.

Reports say that his personal assistant was also killed in the accident. Singh’s son, Ram, suffered minor injuries while the driver and another passenger are critically injured.

Karpal Singh began his political career with the opposition Democratic Action Party in 1978. He recently stepped down as chairman of the party because of sedition charges pending against him.

Singh survived another car crash in 2005 that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Prime Minister Najib Razak expressed his condolences via Twitter.

Singh’s other son, Gobind Singh Deo, who was not traveling with the politician, also tweeted news of his father’s death.

[ABC]

TIME SXSW

Two Killed, Dozens Injured as Car Barrels Through Barricade at SXSW

Authorities in Austin, Texas, say a drunk driver was evading police early Tuesday when the car barreled into a temporary barricade for people gathered near the popular downtown nightclub The Mohawk, leaving two people dead and dozens injured

Updated 8:29 PM EST

The carefree, congenial attitude synonymous with Austin’s South By Southwest (SXSW) music and media festival took a tragic turn when two people were killed and dozens injured just after midnight Thursday near a strip of music venues in the Texas capital.

Austin authorities said that a drunk driver was evading police when he barreled his car through a temporary barricade and plowed into a crowd of fans outside the popular The Mohawk nightclub in downtown. Prior to the accident, he had been driving the wrong way down a one way street.

Austin police have reportedly taken the driver, who they identified as Rashad Charjuan Owens, into custody, and Austin Police chief Art Acevedo says that he faces two charges of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault. The names of the deceased and injured have yet to be officially released.

“We had a large crowd,” Acevedo said. “I just thank God that a lot of the folks had already been pushed on the sidewalk or this could have been a lot worse.” The crowd was waiting in line for a performance by rapper Tyler the Creator. The rapper tweeted a sad face emoticon early Thursday morning.

“It looked like something out of a movie,” Russ Barone told CNN. “A few people lying on the street … with their friends around them trying to get them up, trying to get them back to life. Hopefully, they are.”

Some witnesses posted videos on YouTube, although Acevedo is encouraging them to turn them into police rather than putting them on the internet.

This post was updated with the suspect’s name.

[AP]

TIME Accident

Wrong-Way Car Wrecks in Florida and California Leave 11 Dead

California driver was allegedly going 100mph in wrong direction

Eleven people were killed Sunday in two separate car crashes caused by drivers going the wrong way on highways, authorities in Florida and California said.

An SUV traveling south on northbound Interstate 275 near Tampa collided with another car and burst into flames around 2 am Sunday, killing all four passengers in the car and the SUV driver, Reuters reports. The four passengers in the other car were members of the Sigma Beta Rho fraternity at the University of South Florida, but the SUV driver has not been identified.

In California, a driver going eastbound in the westbound lane of the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar, Calif. hit two other cars, killing two of her passengers and four people in the other vehicles. She suffered major injuries and police arrested her for for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol causing great bodily injury, and for manslaughter. She was allegedly going 100 mph in the wrong direction.

[Reuters]

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