Horace Cooper

More and more it seems that celebrities and their families or close associates are unwilling to embrace basic notions of personal responsibility. Whether it’s the hangers on around the tragic life of Anna Nicole Smith or the family of train wreck Paris Hilton, more and more it appears that the families and friends of celebrities are nothing more than serial enablers.

The latest instance can be found in the circumstances surrounding 29 year old St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Josh Hancock’s drunken driving-related death. Before his fans could complete a decent period of mourning, Josh Hancock’s family announced that they would sue over the “facts and circumstances” of Josh Hancock’s death.

You may recall that Josh Hancock made his major league debut in 2002 with the Boston Red Sox, and after several trades in 2006 became a relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. Although he was once fired by the Cincinnati Reds for violating his contract by being nearly 20 pounds overweight, by the time of his death he had established himself as a pivotal relief pitcher who capably aided the Cardinals during their World Series winning 2006 season.

But in less than 6 months after the 2006 World Series was completed, Josh Hancock would be dead. According to news reports shortly after midnight on April 29th of this year, Josh Hancock was killed in a motor vehicle accident when the 2007 Ford Explorer he was driving rear-ended a parked flat bed tow truck.

How did it happen? The police report indicated that Hancock was intoxicated at the time of his fatal accident with a blood-alcohol level nearly double the legal limit in the state of Missouri. Tellingly, they also found 8.55 grams of marijuana along with a glass pipe used for smoking in his rented Ford Explorer. And according to the accident reconstruction team, at the time of the accident, Josh Hancock was speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, talking on his cell phone and somehow failed to see the stopped tow truck with its flashing lights in time to stop.

There’s no question that his death was a tragedy – cutting him down in the prime of his life and career. And while there are many lessons for us to learn about this needless loss of life, apparently for some in his family and the legal team they’ve hired the need for greater personal responsibility is not on the list.


Horace Cooper

Horace Cooper is a legal commentator and a Senior Fellow with the Institute for Liberty.