Apparently the death of nonfiction Pulitzer prize-winning author David Halberstam is being attributed to the graduate student driver. He made an illegal turn that left Halberstam vulnerable to oncoming traffic. The oncoming car hit the passenger side and crushed Halberstam. The 26-year old student is being charged with vehicular manslaughter.
As writers we probably seldom give thought to the potential hazards of life in the book lane but certainly one of them is that most authors are at the mercy of other drivers when touring the various cities. PR escorts, writing group members, conference volunteers generally pick up authors and see to it that they get to their hotel and interviews before driving them back to the airport. There is a huge level of trust, but I don’t think the driving records of many of those who act as the author escort are checked. Perhaps they should at least be discussed. Halberstam’s death is a tragedy. He is dead. His work could be considered unfinished, and his family is deprived of having him for however many years he had left. The young man who caused the accident, the graduate student who looked upon Halberstam as a mentor, must now faces legal charges as well as deal with the realization that he caused Halberstam’s death.