Death comes about in many ways. For 21-year-old Shania McNeill, it was her own reckless and irresponsible actions that caused her untimely death.
So, should we feel guilty about what happened to her?
Snapchat videos taken moments before she collided with another driver were investigated by police. They show Ms McNeill playing a game of “chicken” with oncoming traffic. Passengers, Faeda Hunter and Hazel Wildman, can be heard screaming in the background. The two friends do not appear to be discouraging Ms McNeill.
WARNING: Explicit language.
Shania McNeill’s last moments alive. Supplied: Kellie Ridgeway
Opinions on the topic have varied on social media, with some taking a more sympathetic approach,
Tragic. Teenagers think they're invincible and I'm not looking forward to the day my kids get their licence to drive. Grieving father of Shania McNeill slams girls ‘reckless’ actions after daughter killed in smash https://t.co/Yz10WU9dXP via @newscomauHQ
— MabelGFlorence (@MabelGFlorence) May 1, 2019
and others showing little or no remorse towards the victim.
Now I ain’t sayin’ #ShaniaMcNeill should have died…. but there ain’t no place for her on this planet. 🐸 ☕️
— filly (@badladfifi) May 1, 2019
Ghoulish @dailytelegraph ☠️
Hazel ‘selfie’ Wildman should be charged by @nswpolice with manslaughter – obstructing Shania McNeill’s vision with Snapchat while she drove #auslaw #nswpol #auspol pic.twitter.com/JtBI8mbkAY
— Countess FrightBat ~ в тихом омуте черти водятся (@CorruptNSW) April 30, 2019
This begs the question: where should our sympathies lie?
Penrith local Kellie Ridgeway said her friends and family use Richmond Road everyday. Ms Ridgeway was disgusted to learn that this type of behaviour was a regular occurrence for Ms McNeill and her friends.
“I feel angry, disgusted and fed up,” she said. “Fed up because people continue to justify, defend or excuse the downright abhorrent behaviour of reckless young people.”
Ms Ridgeway said that her father was working on the road around the time of the accident and was warned to look out for an “erratic driver”.
“As ugly as the sounds, I’m glad no one else had to pay for her irresponsibility with their life,” Ms Ridgeway said.
Enduring multiple injuries, 44-year-old Dennis Sales’ was fortunate to survive the accident. While he is expected to make a full recovery, Ms McNeill’s actions have left Mr Sales out-of-work and suffering through traumatic memories of the accident.
Dennis Sales spent days in a coma after a young female driver veered into oncoming traffic, while her passenger friends took videos on social media. Fundraiser: https://t.co/I9SnhHPlzj @PeterFegan7 #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/RgGOQxg75d
— 7NEWS Sydney (@7NewsSydney) May 12, 2019
How might we feel if Dennis Sales had been killed?
It’s clear that Ms McNeill’s actions had the potential to cause irreversible damage and take away loved ones from innocent people. This is why, regardless of her untimely death, Ms McNeill’s actions should not be taken lightly.
Her death is a devastating loss, there’s no doubt in my mind about that. However, if we let it overshadow and excuse her dangerous and harmful behaviour then what should we expect next? More teenagers risking other people’s lives for a Snapchat video?
Perhaps our sympathies should be aimed towards Ms McNeill’s family, who were horrified to hear that their eldest child had died when the police came knocking on their door at 3.30 am.
“That pounding on the door … it’s going to haunt me for the rest of my life,” Ms McNeill’s father told 9News.