Saturday night, April 9, 2016, New Orleans Saints defensive end, Will Smith, was shot multiple times in a road rage incident and pronounced dead at the scene. Road rage is a much too common occurrence around the world. Angry, aggressive drivers are unpredictable. Analyst Gil Smith offers advice on how to stay alive in a road rage confrontation.
Smith was a big reason the Saints won their first Super Bowl in the 2009 season, in which he had 13 sacks. From 2006-2012, he was the biggest support of the “glamour boys.” Drew Brees, Sean Payton, and Reggie Bush were nothing without Smith. In 2006, the NFL star defensive player made the Pro Bowl with over 10 sacks.
Sadly, he was shot and killed late at night when he and his wife were returning from dinner with friends at a sushi restaurant. An orange Hummer rear-ended their car. The two men had a confrontation of words just before the shooting took place. Cardell Hayes, 28, was identified by police as the driver who fatally shot Smith, and injured his wife, who was shot in the legs. Hayes did not flee; he was arrested at the scene. There is no sign that the two men knew one another before the tragic incident occurred.
As the news of his murder spread among the sports world, many star athletes tweeted their condolences. LeBron James, NBA star, sent a tweet, “So sad man. Good dude, he was man!” Roger Goodell also commented about the NFL great player. Just a month ago Smith was elected to the Saints Hall of Fame, but due to a ridiculous road rage incident that took his life, he will not be around to accept the recognition he worked so hard to attain.
In hopes of helping people remain safe when experiencing cases of road rage, Gil Smith came up with a few suggestions. First, he advised victims call 911 and if the person is still enraged, let them know the authorities have been contacted. Another thing that works most of the time is to accept blame by saying, “OK I made a mistake. I’m sorry.” According to the analyst, this will usually calm things down. Most people he spoke to agreed that avoiding conflict works best and just getting away from the irate driver is the safest course of action. A good suggestion also comes from Corey Browne, who says, “Stay in your vehicle, do not get out, and try to get around the angry driver.”
According to one survey, road rage can be set off by tailgating, talking on a cell phone, or being stuck in traffic. Maybe increasing the amount of police that are on the roadways, or passing a law that bans hand-held devices while driving might help to decrease such a serious problem. Most people surveyed felt that increasing public awareness might be effective. Bikers are at serious risk for road rage because they are not protected inside of a car and are susceptible to physical harm.
The New Orléans police department, in a statement, announced what happened and said that they take road rage seriously. They would not, however, say if Hayes was claiming self-defense. Micheal Harrison, Police Superintendent, said they were going to put together a strong case for the prosecution, and Hayes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In a press conference, they expressed their condolences to every family affected by the tragedy.
Enraged or irate drivers cause a serious problem all around the world, and the best thing anyone can do when involved in such a situation is to avoid confrontation. The sports world will join the Saints in mourning the death of Smith, who lost his life to a senseless road rage incident.
By Katherine Miller-Chichester
News4Jax: How to stay alive in road rage situation
Fox News: Police; ex-Saint Will Smith gunned down in case of road rage
ESPN: Saints greatest era not possible without underrated pillar Will Smith
How stuff works: How road rage works
Images Courtesy of Asim Bharwanni’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License