After Child Is Killed Jaywalking With Mother, Should She Go to Jail?

After Child Is Killed Jaywalking With Mother, Should She Go to Jail?

After Raquel Nelson’s four-year-old son was killed when illegally crossing the street, she could now spend three years behind bars.

Published July 20, 2011

Some adults walking with children might think twice before jaywalking.

For the seeming small crime, a grieving mother is now facing potentially more time in prison than the drunk driver who struck and killed her son. 

This past Tuesday Raquel Nelson, 30, was convicted of “homicide by vehicle in the second degree” for crossing over a busy street in Atlanta with her three children and not using the crosswalk. Crossing mid-street is not uncommon in the community where residents have complained that the nearest cross walk is almost a half of a mile away. The half-a-mile walk would have been worth the journey, however, last fall. While crossing the street, Nelson’s four-year-old-son ran into traffic and was struck and killed by a van. She and her youngest daughter were also injured.

Jerry Guy, the driver of the van, pleaded guilty and served six months in jail. He will be released Oct. 6 and will serve the remainder of his five-year sentence on probation.Guy confessed that he had “a little” alcohol in the day, was on pain medication and was partially blind in one eye. Nelson, on the other hand, could be sentenced at her hearing on July 26 to face as many as three years in jail.Guy has already served time in jail for two previous hit-and-runs, which he says still affect him to this day.

In the state of Georgia, it’s illegal to not cross at a crosswalk because “crosswalks exist on all four corners of intersections even when they are not marked by paint lines.” Nelson’s crosswalk was not marked by paint lines, but do some laws like this jaywalking legislation in Georgia hurt, more than help, the community?

On one hand, jaywalking legislation could be helpful. It could persuade people to walk the extra distance to the light for fear of facing the legal consequences of not following the law. On the other hand, if you commit the crime, jail time could destroy an entire family.

This isn’t the first time someone has been arrested for not crossing at the light. Earlier this year Charoltte Meadors, 26, was knocked unconscious after being hit by a motorist. Her sympathy? An Atlanta police charge of “pedestrian right of way in crosswalk.”

In 2007, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, a British historian, jaywalked in Atlanta while attending an American Historical Association convention. In turn he was arrested and spent eight hours in prison. He eventually attended traffic court and his charges were dropped.

It’s one thing to give someone a ticket for not crossing the street at a light, but it’s another to split a family, who has already lost a member, just to emphasize a law.


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(Photo: Express-Times/Landov)

Written by Danielle Wright


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