The Story

This video

has drawn a lot of attention on the Web. Here’s an example of how the story is being covered by journalists:

Terrible parker in viral video charged from the Toronto Star
York Regional Police charged Tripta Kaushal, 62, on Wednesday with failing to remain at the scene of an accident. She is to appear in court Dec. 1.

But here’s what I found when I poked-around:

In Remembrance of Shayam Kaushal, 1968 – 2009 by David Mandel at Canadian Mortgage Trends
Shayam is survived by his wife Anita, son Keshiv and daughter Karishma, and by his parents Amar and Tripta Kaushal, his brother Rajan, and his sister Kiran.

So here’s how I read that video: Tripta Kaushal loved her son, as most mothers do. She lost him earlier this year, and it has been hard to cope. But she’s trying to get on with her life, because, well, what else can she do? Part of trying to cope is exercise, so she’s going to the gym. She’s in the lot, trying to park her car. But even this is harder than it use to be, and she messes it up, terribly, unbelievably terribly. She literally drives onto a couple of cars. Not knowing what to do then, she backs off them. Then she sits in her vehicle, and starts crying. Because it’s all too much. Not as bad as losing her Shayam, but another awful thing on top of losing him. And she knows that it’s her fault, but she can’t deal with it. So she drives away.

I’m not saying that what she did is anything but awful. She ruined people’s cars, inflicting significant economic damage and damage that is less tangible but may none-the-less have been worse for the victims. She is responsible for this damage. But this is a video of a person who was and is held-together with the emotional equivalent of twine.

[Up-Date (2011:01/04): The YouTube account associated with the link to the video which I original used has been deleted, and with it the video. So I have linked to a different copy of the video.]

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16 Comments

  1. oshi on 29.10.2009 at 19:10 (Reply)

    Your heartwrenching narrative makes me feel bad for laughing at the horrendous nature of that parking attempt. So I will stop watching and save my driving frustration for the awful parkers I'm sure I will see tomorrow morning...

    1. Daniel on 29.10.2009 at 19:38 (Reply)

      I don't think that people who laughed at this video without knowing the story behind it should feel bad about their reäctions.

      And I don't think that the people out there on the 'Net who ridicule the driver even after the truth is explained will ever feel bad about that.

  2. BO on 30.10.2009 at 04:17 (Reply)

    huh? u r funny. you were not even her, so how do u know what she felt at that moment. do u know how she was caught?? she drove back few days later and pretended nothing happen. someone at the gym recognized the car. when confronted by the police, she denied everything.
    i'm a court clerk and have seen people making excuses like that all the time. there is always someone died. a son, a daughter, a father, a mother, a friend......yea, i think i've even heard the pet passed away excuse. what is laughable isn't the crash, it's someone who's 62 couldn't even own up to her mistake and then lied about it.

    1. Daniel on 30.10.2009 at 09:35 (Reply)

      An alleged court clerk who writes such abominable English? I hope that you do better when on the taxpayer dime.

      You assert that, since I'm not even her I couldn't know what he thought or felt. Well, indeed, I prefaced things with here’s how I read that video. Meanwhile, you state your interpretation as plain fact. Presumably, you are not even her either.

      As to excuses offered, it wasn't Ms Kaushal's pet that died; it was her son. And, so far, it has been I, not her, who has noted the death of her son.

      Nor have the news stories reported her as having gone back to the gym, nor having lied to the police. And what you claim is funny here certainly isn't in the video.

  3. tlrmike on 30.10.2009 at 08:36 (Reply)

    Here is my take on the situation. Her son passed away earlier in the year after he was accidentally run over in the driveway of his home by his 62 year old mother. She was driving on a suspended license due to an earlier hit and run incident involving an accident at a school crossing. She claims to be unfamiliar with the new car that she just purchased using the life insurance money that she recieved for the untimely and tragic death of her son. She didn't have insurance on the vehicle because of her suspended license and realized that she may face financial ruin if she was found liable for destroying two vehicles while attempting to park her new car. Sadly she made the decision to leave the area without reporting the incident.

    You have just written a great description of events that may have absolutely nothing to do with reality. Then you got two people to comment that they felt bad about finding humor in the situation.

    I'm not saying you aren't correct in your assumtions. I have little doubt that you are closer to the truth of the matter than I am. What I am saying, is that you used very little information to formulate an excuse for poor driving and bad behavior. Then you got at least one person (Daniel) to react as though you were reporting fact and not conjecture.

    I think this is a funny video, and I hope that everything turns out well for all involved.

    1. Daniel on 30.10.2009 at 09:50 (Reply)

      MIke—

      Your alleged take on the situation conflicts with the established facts, rather than simply making inferences.

      As to my getting two people to comment that they felt bad about finding humor in the situation, your reading or your counting is remarkably sloppy here. As to what I (Daniel) said in reply to oshi, it is plainly true that most of the people ridiculing the driver don't know the fact that her son had died earlier this year; and I'm quite confident that those who, like you, insist that the video is funny even after they learn that aren't the sorts to ever feel bad about doing so (though perhaps they may have a negative reäction to how they are perceived).

      My narrative isn't itself presented as fact, but what makes it effective is that it is a very reasonable inference from fact — which fact was missed by journalists, and which fact was actively concealed by the Mike; who posted the video to YouTube. (Yesterday, I revealed the fact in a comment, and the poster deleted my comment.)

      1. tlrmike on 30.10.2009 at 10:55 (Reply)

        Ahh. I see. I didn't realize that you were replying to the first comment. My counting is good, my attention to detail is suspect in this case.

        I do stand by my comment though. I don't feel I made any mistakes with the facts as presented, and I believe that my inferences were no less correct than what were stated in the origonal article.

        Honestly, I feel bad for the woman. I'm sure that it was a tramatic and confusing moment to endure. I laugh at the situation and the foolishness of it all.

        On a side note, I don't post or comment on videos very often and I assure you that if your comments on Youtube were deleted by someone named Mike, it was purely coincidental.

        1. Daniel on 30.10.2009 at 11:35 (Reply)

          No, Mike, I provided links to the two relevant reports — one on her accident and apprehension and the other on the death of her son. You engaged in cruel invention that not only extended wildly beyond what was explicit in my entry but cannot be fit to what is in those two reports.

          I didn't quote either in full both because I respect copyrights and because I expect readers to have at least enough sense to skim each article before making incredible inferential leaps.

          Don't attempt to play critical philosopher; you're simply no d_mn'd good at it.

  4. Cautious on 30.10.2009 at 08:41 (Reply)

    What I think is really sad is people who always drive too fast in parking lots -- even faster than this woman -- and kill pedestrians. Even though this woman did not drive as fast in the parking lot as most people, she still drove faster than acceptable in a parking lot. Also, I got the impression that she drove over the cars on purpose -- perhaps mad at the gym manager over something. I think she would have been more shaken up and scared if it was an accident. Also, she would have been afraid that she hurt someone in the car -- after all, someone could have been sitting in one of the parked cars. She probably checked the parking lot out a few minutes before she did it, left the lot and then came back in. How else would she know no one was crushed in one of the cars?

    1. Daniel on 30.10.2009 at 10:08 (Reply)

      She wasn't driving fast until she got close to the point where one would normally apply a brake. Which is to say that she almost certainly stepped on the accelerator pedal when she mean to step on the brake. (When people do this, and the vehicle begins moving faster, they typically try to press down harder on the brake pedal, but of course they are actually pressing down harder on the accelerator pedal.)

      You cannot have it both ways, with this being both an accidental result of speed and a deliberate attack. And, if it were a deliberate attack that she then sought to conceal, she would be expected to flee more quickly.

      Given that she left the scene, the fact that she left slowly is being taken by most viewers as either anomalous or stupid. But it is a datum that my explanation fits well.

      It don't think that she knew that there was no one in the two vehicles onto which she drove. As I said, what she did was awful. But, as for your conjecture that she returned, a return would have been caught and shown on video had it occurred.

      1. Joe on 30.10.2009 at 20:15 (Reply)

        ...conjecture that she returned? She did return, and it's a fact. You're pretty lame for defending a hit and run. http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20091029/extreme_accident_091029/20091029/?site_codename=Toronto

        1. Daniel on 30.10.2009 at 20:20 (Reply)

          The conjecture from Cautious was

          She probably checked the parking lot out a few minutes before she did it, left the lot and then came back in.

          which is very different from the driver returning on another day.

          And I'm not defending a hit-and-run, you coward. (Yes, it is cowardly for you to deliberately misrepresent what I have written.)

  5. Z on 03.11.2009 at 09:43 (Reply)

    Many people lose family members every year. This is no excuse for criminal bahavior. Yes, what she did was criminal behavior, hit and run is a criminal act.

    While her state of mind can excuse the accident itself, the criminal act that followed, ie: leaving, is not excusable. Two wrongs do not make a right.

    Yes, your article does point that out but it almost seems like you're defending her state of mind. Why? If on one hand we all condem her actions, why are you trying to twist the story into one of personal loss?

    If anything this just makes her case even worse! Now she'll be labelled as emotionally unstable and a threat to society. If she's so upset over the loss of her child she drives up unto other people's cars, what else can she do in her current state? Not stop at a red light and kill a a mother and child crossing at a crosswalk?

    If you were trying to make the youtube commentors into vilians with your article, I think it's going to backfire on you. As far as I'm concerned, it has backfired! Now more than ever I'm convinced that this woman should be taken off the streets!!!!

    1. Daniel on 03.11.2009 at 12:14 (Reply)

      No, it never seemed (nor almost seemed) that I was trying to defend her state of mind. But it certainly seemed that I was trying to reconstruct and present her state of mind.

      That's not trying to twist the story; that's trying to offer the underlying explanation. There's no surprise that I'd want to do that; lots of people have tried to do that, albeït ineptly and with cruel result. The question, then, is of why you don't want this reasonable and uncruel explanation presented.

      As to making her case even worse, in some respects indeed it might. So what? I'm not trying to keep Ms Kaushal on the road.

      As I told my first commenter, I don't think that people who laughed at this video without knowing the story behind it should feel bad about their reäctions. But, that of course leaves the people who become hostile when told more of the story, and those who insist that they should get their LOLs anyway. Indeed, there's something villainous about such people.

      Your notion that the entry somehow backfires on me is based on your hoped conjecture about what I were seeking. What I was seeking was

      • to presenting the underlying explanation,
      • to illustrate the differences between the interpretations typically placed upon extraodinary behavior and reasonable interpretations,
      • to illustrate the failure of journalists to report essential elements of a story, even when those elements are easy to find.

      I've probably succeeded in the first objective, and certainly succeeded in the second and third. Not much here to backfire.

      I'm enough of a reälist to have expected that some people would reäct hostilely to the revelation that the most reasonable explanation of Ms Kaushal's behavior is in fact tragic. I don't respond to you in the hope that you will be enlightened; I write for the benefit of others in the audience.

  6. refriedgringo on 20.11.2009 at 20:32 (Reply)

    There's no excuse for leaving the scene. None. It's inexcusable. Nice bit of sleuthing on your part, but there is no justifiable reason for leaving the scene of that crime.

    I didn't laugh at the video when I first saw it, I didn't find it funny. Obviously, her foot slipped off of the brake and hit the gas pedal. Not funny. Sad. And leaving the scene of the crime was criminal and she should get whatever is normal punishment.

    Personal tragedy should never be an excuse for leniency when convicted of a crime.

    1. Daniel on 20.11.2009 at 21:46 (Reply)

      Personal tragedy should never be an excuse for leniency when convicted of a crime.

      I'm not sure that I agree with that completely, but certainly the primary focus should be on deed, and there should be absolutely no sacrifice of the rights of victims.

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