Porter, who is white, was sentenced to two years of house arrest, three years of probation, 500 hours of community-service work. She was not charged with killing the children. The defense painted a picture of a good girl in a bad situation, a terrified, defenseless “broken woman” whose experience was so traumatic, her instinct was to crawl into a fetal position, contemplate suicide and do whatever her parents told her to do immediately after the crash. Porter didn’t come forward for days. People in the community questioned how someone who experts said was such a good person could run over four children and not stop driving, not call the police, and go back to work the next day. “If it was a dog, most people would have stopped to help,” someone said. Others added that, “If that had been a black man, he would have been in prison.” However, Clinton Paris, president of the George Edgecomb Bar Association, a group of local black lawyers said, “She’s not really a criminal. She’s a person who made a mistake. She exercised some bad judgment at that moment that shouldn’t stump the rest of her life opportunities.” Still, Paris, a civil lawyer, feels that Porter’s actions warranted a harsher sentence than the one she received. The facts show that there wasn’t anything Porter could have done to prevent the accident. Evidently, the streetlight was out and the children were running across the road. But she complicated her life by fleeing the scene. Her actions afterward are why she’s being punished. In a crisis, do you ever really know the decisions you would make? Sharon Woodson-Bryant is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Write to her by e-mail at [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Last week, my husband and I were back in Florida for vacation when he called from his cell phone to tell me he would be a little late getting back to our hotel. He had stopped to help a man he had seen fly off his motorcycle onto a construction area on the highway. Another motorist stopped behind my husband, and they made sure the rider was not injured and got him into a cab. This wasn’t the first time my husband has seen an accident and stopped to help the person. Would I do the same? I hope I would, but depending on the risk, I don’t know. People can react in peculiar ways. With gunshots blasting and bullets flying, our nephew – a record producer – was crawling out of a club with a bodyguard when, from under the table next to him, he heard a voice say, “Man, I want to talk to you about some studio time.” In 1998, I wasn’t dodging real bullets but, while sitting in an executive management meeting at MTA, I knew I had to quit. I had been working there for two months when my moment of truth hit. It was the first time in my life that I was totally overwhelmed with a job. Right then, I made the decision to swallow my pride, push ego aside and call my former boss to see if I could get my old position back at the Gas Co. Sometimes it isn’t just the decision but rather what you do as a consequence of that choice you made. In Tampa earlier this month, a judge ruled that Jennifer Porter will serve no prison time after pleading guilty to charges from an accident last year that killed two children and injured two others. All of these children were black. “Do you agree that we should not place him on a life-support system?” the nurse asked me – or something like that – over the phone. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon about eight years ago when I got that call from the hospital in Kansas City. My stepfather had reached the dangerous stages of dementia and they hadn’t been able to reach my mother at home. She had told me about his declining condition, but I was living in Florida, hundreds of miles away physically and emotionally. Whatever she had said was as much a blur as what the nurse was saying at that moment. “No,” I said, feeling both panic and fear. “I could not make that decision.” Later that day, when I talked to my mother, she said he had made it through the critical hours and was recovering. Yet, I focused selfishly on myself. I stressed that she had to get a beeper so I wouldn’t have to ever decide something like that again. A few months later, my stepfather passed away, but the torment of that that call haunted me for years. In those dark moments of a crisis, do you know what you would do?