Back in July, I wrote a blog about a fatal crash in St. Louis County caused by two drivers who were street racing on Lindbergh Boulevard. Kathleen ‘Kay’ Koutroubis’ car was struck from behind by a car driven by Haven A. Sooter. Her car then veered into the other lane and was struck by a car driven by Scott A. Bailey. She was conscious at the scene, but complained of abdominal pain and later died of internal injuries at the hospital.
Immediately following the crash, Sooter was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Bailey, a personal injury attorney, was booked and his license was revoked for failure to submit to a breath or blood test for suspicion of intoxication after the crash. At the time, police speculated that charges might be brought against both drivers – but they were waiting on the results of toxicology tests and accident reconstruction reports.
In late November, both men were formally charged in the death of Kay Koutroubis. Bailey with manslaughter and Sooter with second-degree murder for the crash, which involved careless driving, excessive speeds of over 100 mph and possibly driving under the influence. Sooter was charged differently because he has prior DWI offenses. He pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in 2001 in St. Charles and was convicted of a similar crime in 2002 in Los Angeles.
When you look at the circumstances that caused this crash – alcohol, fast cars, excessive speed and street racing – one might expect that young, naïve drivers were involved.
But, the moral of this story is people – regardless of race, gender or age – do dumb things and take unnecessary risks every day. Why? Because they are under the very real misconception that nothing bad will ever happen.
But bad things do happen. Nobody should have known this better than the two men charged in this crash. One is a repeat DWI offender. The other is a personal injury attorney who represents victims of negligence every day. These two drivers knew very well the dangers of driving recklessly under the influence.
Despite that knowledge, these drivers chose to be selfish and arrogant. They made a choice to drive carelessly with no regard to the consequences or to what might happen to the other drivers with whom they shared the road that night.
Matt Devoti is a partner with Casey & Devoti, a St. Louis-based personal injury law firm. He handles a wide variety of personal injury cases with a special emphasis on victims of impaired or distracted driving. Matt and his law partner, Matt Casey, are also authorized speakers for EndDD.org’s ‘End Distracted Driving Student Awareness Program.’