On Tuesday, Coral Gables police announced that Kristin Arbuckle, the 25-year-old woman who ran a red light and struck and killed Ashley Kelly as she and her friend Andrea Cinque were crossing U.S. 1 near campus last week, will not be charged in the death. She will, however, be issued a ticket for $115.50 and will receive four points on her license for running a red light.
Yet, what makes this story a little more complicated is that Arbuckle is the niece of Dean Colson, chairman of the UM Board of Trustees and a prominent lawyer in the area. While the police continue to ascertain that the accident was in fact just that, an accident, other people, including students and members of the surrounding community, are passing their own judgments. Accusations and rumors have been circulating that Arbuckle received a lighter punishment due to her family connections. It is being said that because her uncle is powerful and a lawyer in the community, the police went easier on her. Granted, the fine itself seems a little low, especially considering that you can get a $180 ticket for speeding on San Amaro, yet just because the police has seemingly weird fine criteria doesn’t mean that Arbuckle got special treatment. There is absolutely no evidence leaning to that fact.
Arbuckle was driving under the posted speed limit, wasn’t swerving through traffic, wasn’t under the influence and wasn’t talking on her cell phone. This incident, while undeniably tragic, was nothing more than a horrible accident. It is something that Arbuckle will have to live with for the rest of her life. Witnesses reported that after the accident she ran to Kelly’s side, held her hand and cried.
There is nothing that can be done to bring back the loss of Kelly to her friends and families. Yet, pointing more fingers than necessary when it was an accident is not going to help anything. The police have a job to do, to ensure that justice is served, and it is not up to the public to question the results of their investigations.
Instead of placing blame, we need to focus on preventing another accident and loss. We should concentrate our efforts on pushing the local government to create a pedestrian bridge on Ponce and U.S. 1 in front of the University. Student Government representatives have already met with city commissioners to discuss the plan, which is expected to take three years to complete. Students and other members of the UM community have signed petitions in support of the bridge, showing that the community feels the need for change. The loss can’t be replaced, but the push for improvement can mean that the loss won’t be forgotten.