Sometimes saying “God is my co-pilot” is more than an aspirational bumper sticker. Prionda Hill, 25, insists that she took it seriously when she said that God told her that he would drive her 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix. Either God is another elderly driver past his prime or he wanted to do in Anthony Oliveri, 47, because he immediately ran the car off the road and slammed into Oliveri on his 2001 Harley-Davidson.
Hill ended up in the median next to a Rally’s burger restaurant after the accident around 9:45 pm on July 11. Police found her in the restaurant where she recounted the divine intervention. She said that she was just driving along when “out of nowhere God told her that He would take it from here and she let go of the wheel and let Him take it.”
She almost killed Oliveri but at the last minute the car swerved away from his head and across his midsection. leaving him with broken ribs, a lacerated spleen and bleeding kidney. Hill passed an alcohol test but she was taking a prescription for the pain medication Vicodin.
There is obviously a torts case to be made. I teach a case, Breunig v. American Family Insurance Co., 173 N.W.2d 619 (Wis. 1970), where the defendant was driving when she believed God took control of the car and when she saw a truck coming, “stepped on the gas to become airborne because she knew she could fly because Batman does it.” (This is by the way a clear indication of insanity since everyone knows Batman cannot fly). She was still found guilty of negligence because she had knowledge or forewarning of her mental delusions or disability. Courts will allow an insanity defense in such cases when they do not have notice or forewarning and the condition denies the person’s ability to exercise reasonable care or to act in an “ordinarily prudent manner.” In addition, the person must not have notice or forewarning that he may suddenly subject to such a type of insanity.
Of course, if he were to prevail on such a claim, it would likely be difficult to retain her license without a demonstration of medication or treatment to the satisfaction of the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Faith-based driving is still unrecognized around the country.