So, are we all ready to absolve Julia?
Well, that didn’t take long. I wondered when we were going to get the tearful explanation from the parent whose child was bitten by the Maymont bear. The “I-did-everything-you-would-have-done-but-something-happened-that-was-completely-out-my-control” explanation.
“I don’t see this as Maymont’s fault or my fault. It was an accident,” she said.
Her lawyer, Michael Morchower, said the same: “This was an accident. Everyone has to live with it and accept it and not point fingers. If this is negligence on her part, then 80 percent of mothers and fathers in Richmond better take notice.”
Ah, the accident.
Accidents, you see, just happen. Poof, like that. They happen all the time -- cars crash into each other, people fall over the sides of enormous cruise ships, vice presidents shoot their friends in face -- but they are not anyone’s fault, for goodness sake. Accidents happen. They are not actually caused by anything or anyone, so let’s not dare point any fingers.
Julia says she turned around for a few seconds and lost sight of her son. Who hasn’t had that happen with a 4-year-old? But just say it: I made a mistake. It is completely and utterly my fault. And now the bears are dead and it is a guilt I will have to live with my whole life.
Instead we get: “My feelings are no different than what other people are going through.” If that’s true, it means her grief is unburdened by any sense of guilt whatsoever.
And still, there are unanswered questions -- things that just don’t add up.
She says she doesn’t remember anyone at St. Mary’s mentioning anything about rabies treatment on Saturday when it happened. “I’m sure they did, but I don’t recall. I was worried about what was going on with my son.”
Hold it. You are so worried about your son’s health that you don’t remember doctors talking to you about how to treat him properly? It wasn’t until Wednesday that the rabies process was explained to her by health department officials. And it wasn’t until a day later that the mother who was so sharply focused on her son’s health agreed to go ahead with the treatment. If time was so much of the essence why did it take 5½ days to get to that point?
As a mother, I want to be compassionate and sympathetic here. I really do. It takes every bit of our attention and vigilance when we are in public to make sure our little ones are safe. And there’s not one of us who hasn’t had a scary moment in a park or a parking lot or on a crowded beach. But hearing “it’s not my fault” in this particular case just doesn’t cut it. Two bears are dead for no reason. That must be someone’s fault. But hold on, there’s enough blame to around. (There I go, finger-pointing again…)
Because the biggest hole in this story was exposed in the explosive revelation that the Centers for Disease Control now says it gave local officials two options -- euthanize the bears OR treat the child. That was clearly not the impression given by health officials here: according to the Times-Dispatch timeline of events, health department officials contacted the CDC, which "recommends euthanizing the bears and testing them for rabies." Local officials have yet to respond to that particular bombshell.
Well? We’re waiting …