In response to accusations of Paradise Valley malfeasance

This letter is in response to the recent Guest Commentary from Christine Hess concerning the tragic death of Mr. Howard Brown, who was killed when struck by an automobile while walking his dog.

First, Ms. Hess accuses the city of a cover-up of some sorts because the identity of the driver was not publicly disclosed until weeks after the accident.

Secondly, she refers to the “sordid details” of the accident without offering any such details.

Third, she impugns the integrity of all the town’s officials by insinuating there was no investigation. She says, “a residents life had been lost. Was there no curiosity, no questions, no investigation about the driver of the vehicle?”

In review, I’ll paraphrase the article written about the accident that preceded Ms. Hess’ Guest Commentary.

Mr. Brown was walking his dog when he stepped in front of the moving vehicle. The only eye witness, the driver of the car immediately behind the car that struck Mr. Brown, stated that Mr. Brown did not appear to look in any directions other than that which he was traveling before stepping into traffic. The dog was narrowly avoided, but he was not.

The responding officer interviewed the driver of the car that struck Mr. Brown and concluded from her appearance, behavior, and demeanor that she was not impaired by drugs or alcohol. He took the statement of the only eyewitness and concluded that there was no reason to believe that the driver had acted recklessly or improperly.

Furthermore, once the driver’s relationship to the Town of Paradise Valley was known, and it was determined that there could be an appearance of a conflict of interest, the investigation was turned over to the Scottsdale police.

Ms. Hess further states that the driver had a previous conviction for DUI and that her car had the device which requires a breath test before starting the vehicle. She states this as if it is “evidence” of suspicious circumstances and that the decision to release the driver was prejudicial.

This is not clear thinking, and in fact, shows extreme prejudice by Ms. Hess, for the fact that the driver’s car was equipped with such a device actually reduces the chance she was driving under the influence. It doesn’t increase the chance as Ms. Hess infers.

Ms. Hess  asks why the identity of the driver not was announced publicly, insinuating a cover-up. Well, for starters being involved in someone’s violent death is extremely traumatic, whether or not you are legally or civilly responsible. It is probably something you’d rather deal with privately. I’m sure that was done out of respect for the girl and her family.

Lastly, it is imprudent to cast aspersions, as does Ms. Hess, without actually witnessing the accident. Because, even then it is often difficult to accurately ascertain what happens in real time. She wants you to believe that someone in power pulled strings to bury a crime and let an offender escape.

This conspiracy would necessarily include the eyewitness who said the collision appeared unavoidable due primarily to the inattentiveness of the victim, the testimony of the responding officer who interviewed the driver on the scene, and the investigators of the Scottsdale Police who were called in to complete the investigation.


Unless Ms. Hess has a lot more damning information than what was included in the Town of Paradise Valley Independent news article, I suggest she not make the kind of allegations she made in her letter.

The accident was tragic enough, do we really need a witch hunt on top of that?

Editor's note: Mr. Brown is a Paradise Valley resident.

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