Editorial: Father made a poor decision

By Dylan Thorne

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We are all fallible, all capable of mistakes or for actions that go against our better judgment.

Usually this occurs in the heat of the moment or with a sudden rush of blood to the head and such things are usually followed by a degree of regret and self-reflection.

However, I find it almost impossible though to contemplate what 44-year-old Brendan Michael Dowd was thinking when he decided it was a good idea to tow teenage skateboarders behind his car. The stunt, of course, was an accident waiting to happen.

On Saturday, we reported how Dowd pleaded guilty to reckless driving causing injury after one of the boys fell in front of the car.

He was sentenced to 60 hours' community work, disqualified from driving for a year and ordered to pay $500 to his teenage victim for emotional harm.

Dowd, his two sons, and the victim had been skateboarding in Tauriko Industrial Park on October 4 last year.

The group were filming and photographing each other skating, when someone suggested Dowd could tow the boys behind his Honda Fit car.

Each of the boys took four or five turns being towed at speeds of up to 50 km/h before letting go and free-wheeling to a stop, with Dowd braking behind them. On at least one run, Dowd towed two of the boys at once.

When the crash happened, Dowd was towing the boy at 50 km/h when the boy got the speed wobbles and fell off his board in front of the car - rolling several times - and narrowly missed being hit. He suffered serious injuries as a result.

Judge Thomas Ingram said it was not deliberate recklessness, but rather a case of "foolish" use of a motor vehicle where injury was likely to occur.

Skateboarders spoken to after the court case said such stunts were not unusual. This is not surprising. Skateboarding is a sub-culture dominated by young men who, because of their age, think they are invincible. They are willing to put their bodies on the line for their chosen sport and their skills can be truly awe-inspiring.

However, even those intent on pushing the limits need to be restrained and that was what was so disturbing about this case. Dowd as a father and middle-aged man should have known better and should have put their safety first.

The Bay of Plenty Times ran a photo of the terrifying moment the accident occurred as well as a photo of the boy's injuries to dissuade anyone from replicating such a dangerous act.

Hopefully, this case will serve as a lesson to others that such acts of stupidity put lives at risk.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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