To begin this New Year, I am pleased to launch a new and prestigious award. I’m calling it the Joseph Hazelwood, and it will go to people who have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are unworthy of public trust. Surely you remember Joe. He was the skipper of the Exxon Valdez, that little skow that ran onto a reef 28 years ago in Prince William Sound in Alaska.
11 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the water. No human beings died, but the death toll among other creatures was considerable – 250,000 seabirds, 3,000 otters, 300 seals, 250 bald eagles and 22 killer whales.
When the so-called ‘accident’ happened, Joe was asleep below deck. Truth is he was “sleeping one off” and it wasn’t the first time. The Exxon Valdez was a huge international incident but the skipper beat the rap, and never served five minutes behind bars.
The first winner of the trophy bearing the Hazelwood name should go to a 37 year old pilot from Slovakia named Miroslav Gronych. Boy, he was really tooting in Calgary on the last day of 2016. Sunwing Vacations was paying him to fly a bunch of prairie folks to Cancun, but thankfully the plane never got off the runway with that man at the controls.
It seems he passed out in the cockpit with four times the legal limit of hooch in his bloodstream. Just how does this happen, and why should anyone ever put their trust in the hands of such people again?
There are all kinds of strict rules in place about substance abuse by people who hold such jobs, and supposedly a ‘zero tolerance’ policy if a pilot or a driver of any public transport vehicle is found to be legally impaired.
Can you imagine what might have happened if Sully Sullenberger had a snootful when his plane ended up in the Hudson seven years ago?
Can you imagine the fun we’re going have in this country when mary jane becomes legal, and we get to figure out how to police the highs and lows? Travel safe everybody, and maybe buy lots of insurance.
I’m Roger Currie