22-year-old Willie Poon from Binghamton University in upstate New York died this past Saturday after his fraternity brother, 20-year-old Roy Liu drove under the influence, swerved off the road and struck a grove of trees. Both young men were active members of an Asian American fraternity, Lambda Phi Epsilon. The boys were on their way home from Slope Day at Cornell, which is in its essence a huge beer bash where college kids get wrecked.
Liu has been charged with second degree manslaughter for the death of Poon and for driving while intoxicated. Liu is now facing a possible prison sentence of anywhere from 2 to 7 years if convicted. Also, Poon hadn’t been wearing his seatbelt, according to a source. In many states, that’s also Liu’s fault. It’s been argued that Poon wasn’t required to wear his seatbelt, since he was sitting in the back; but sources also state that but for the fact he did not wear his seatbelt, he would be alive today.
An onslaught of outrage toward local authorities came from the campus communities and the Lambda Phi Epsilon brotherhood. They’re mad at the harsh treatment of Liu. It’s tragic that Willie Poon died in such an existential manner, but give me a break. Do people really think Liu should get away with this scot-free? He repents. He feels bad. His irresponsible asinine choices resulted in the death of someone he called a brother. Who wouldn’t repent and feel bad? His personal guilt doesn’t absolve him from legal consequences. He broke the law. Why does the charge of second degree manslaughter and DWI shock anyone’s conscience here? I’m sure Liu would welcome prison, the opportunity to atone for the harm he caused. If he doesn’t welcome prosecution, then he’s just another wayward youth who won’t own up to the consequences of his actions.
I’m perplexed at PressConnects, a local Binghamton news source, for watering down the culpability of Poon and Liu and anyone who knew that these boys were getting into a car with a drunk driver. The article mentions the graduation gift his fraternity got for him: a radar detector. Why would he need a radar detector? That really screams good citizen to me. A guy who needed a radar detector. It’s not clear to me what contribution Poon has made to his community. The greatest trait the author of the article could muster was “[Poon’s friends] described Poon as a prankster, but also a serious student. He cared deeply about his friends.” Fine. Honor your dead; but no delusions of grandeur, please.
I’m further perplexed that nobody seems mad at Liu. I hope he gets convicted for involuntary manslaughter because not only is there a prima facie case for it against him, but kids like him — and there sure are a horde of them — need to face the difficult consequences of their recklessness.