If You Ever Want to Maim Someone With Your Car, Get a Job at Morgan Stanley

In most of the United States, the general rule about harming people with automobiles goes like this: Stay at the scene, and if you’re sober, you probably won’t be looking at anything more substantial than a moving violation. Recent laws passed in Oregon, New York, and Delaware promise to hold motorists to a higher standard of care (if law enforcement employs the new tools), but one part of the country seems to be taking a step backward when it comes to condoning reckless driving.

Martin Erzinger, Morgan Stanley wealth manager
Martin Erzinger, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney wealth manager. Photo: ##http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/11/rich-vail-fund-manager-gets-off.php##Treehugger##

Over in Vail, Colorado, the new rule seems to be that you don’t even have to stay at the scene, if you’re sufficiently rich and well-connected. Manage a billion dollar portfolio, and you can do whatever the hell you want with your car and get away with no felony charges.

Vail Daily reported last week that Martin Erzinger, a wealth manager for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and local resident, will not face felony charges stemming from a July 3 collision in which he reportedly ran down New York City physician Steven Milo, causing severe spinal injuries, and drove away. Over Milo’s objections, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert won’t pursue anything stronger than a misdemeanor charge for the hit-and-run. The decision has little to do with justice or deterrence and much to do with money:

“Mr. Erzinger struck me, fled and left me for dead on the highway,” Milo wrote. “Neither his financial prominence nor my financial situation should be factors in your prosecution of this case.”

Hurlbert said Thursday that, in part, this case is about the money.

“The money has never been a priority for them. It is for us,” Hurlbert said. “Justice in this case includes restitution and the ability to pay it.”

Hurlbert said Erzinger is willing to take responsibility and pay restitution.

“Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger’s profession, and that entered into it,” Hurlbert said. “When you’re talking about restitution, you don’t want to take away his ability to pay.”

Blogger Felix Salmon says the decision amounts to Erzinger buying his way out of a felony charge. Over at Cyclelicious, Richard Masoner is calling for a Vail tourism boycott and points to other reactions around the web, including this petition to Hurlbert at Change.org.

  • Spokker

    “Over at Cyclelicious, Richard Masoner is calling for a Vail tourism boycott”

    Who has even heard of Vail? How does such a boycott even make sense? One guy does something stupid and the whole town suffers?

    What’s with you people and boycotts? They rarely work.

  • I know what we should do. We should flood the streets of Vail with our cars, on the hunt for Mr. Millionaire. When he slips up and tries to cross the street, BLAMMO! We run him down and leave him for dead.

    Getting out of that one is a cinch in Vail.

  • Spokker

    At least that plan makes more sense than a boycott.

  • Marcotico

    Spokker is a reactionary. I think we should boycott him.

  • Erik G.

    The most damning part of the Vail Daily article, IMHO:

    “Erzinger allegedly veered onto the side of the road and hit Milo from behind. Milo was thrown to the pavement, while Erzinger struck a culvert and kept driving, according to court documents.

    Erzinger drove all the way through Avon, the town’s roundabouts, under I-70 and stopped in the Pizza Hut parking lot where he called the Mercedes auto assistance service to report damage to his vehicle, and asked that his car be towed, records show. He did not ask for law enforcement assistance, according to court records.”

    Fortunately, this story hit Huffington Post yesterday:


    and you might love the comments on FARK.com:


  • roadblock

    how about a website that lists all convicted hit and run drivers? let’s make sure it is SEO optimized so these pieces of shit get there cases listed up top on google name searches…


Tom Vanderbilt Ponders Motorist Sociopathy

Yesterday, at the end of our piece about the recent road rage incidents in usually-polite Portland and Seattle, we posed a question to Tom Vanderbilt, author of the forthcoming book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do and What It Says About Us. We asked: What is it about automobility that often seems to […]

Today’s Headlines

Interview with LADOT’s Michelle Mowery, This Time Concerning 4SBB (Bicycle Fixation) Air Resource Board Delays Dirty Diessl Rules (Daily News) Update on a Santa Monica Hit and Run Case: Moving Forward, Driver Not Sorry (Bikeside) No Jail For Hit-and-Run Wealth Manager Who Left Cyclist For Dead in Vail (ABC Denver) Hollywood Farmer’s Market Lives!  For […]

Back to the Grid: John Norquist on How to Fix National Transpo Policy

The news coming out of Washington last week jacked up expectations for national transportation policy to new heights. Cabinet members Ray LaHood and Shaun Donovan announced a partnership to connect transportation and housing policy, branded as the "Sustainable Communities Initiative." The second-in-command at DOT, Vice Admiral Thomas Barrett, told a New York audience that "building […]