South Dakota Rep. Bill Janklow shed tears of remorse at a news conference in Sioux Falls last week, saying he couldn't be sorrier about his Aug. 16 crash that killed a Minnesota man. Janklow has plenty to be sorry about, but his regrets are a bit late.
Through his long political career, including four years as attorney general and 16 years as governor before being elected to Congress last year, Janklow had turned a blind eye to his own dangerously bad driving habits. He compiled more than a dozen citations for speeding and had been involved in at least seven accidents. No regrets then. He just paid his fines and forgot about it.
Now, Janklow finds himself charged with second-degree manslaughter for the death of motorcyclist Randy Scott, 55, of Hardwick, who smashed into a Cadillac driven by Janklow that had run a stop sign at a rural intersection while going about 16 mph over the speed limit.
Most political observers agree that Janklow's career has been ruined, although he may not realize it. At his news conference, Janklow lost control of his emotions several times but kept a careful lid on information, refusing to discuss details of the crash or speculate on his future in Congress. This led Scott's mother to issue a statement sympathizing with Janklow's regret, but regretting that he hadn't been more honest.
But Janklow will have face up to the full consequences of his deadly recklessness someday. In his case, the old adage "speed kills" has a dual meaning: It has destroyed a human life and a life of public service.
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