Tuesday, August 23, 2005


The Innocent Victim

The Alleged Perpetrator

REBECCA BARGER / Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Photographer

"The real significance of a crime is in its being a breach of faith with the community of mankind." Joseph Conrad

What kind of person hits someone with a car and runs away? What in God's name goes through a driver's mind after that sickening thud -- a sound it's said--even if you've never heard it before--you instantly recognize as car-on-body?

The kind of person who does such a thing is Scum. Period. And if that person is drunk or high, then scum is too nice a word. Or, as may be the case here in Philadelphia, if the car owner is protecting the real offender, they're both maggots. Scum-sucking maggots.

In case you haven't guessed, this kind of behavior--this particular crime--fills me with disgust and intense, blind anger. It's senseless. Pointless. And totally, completely avoidable. Road rage by testosterone-driven idiots is bad enough with its aggressive, outrageous stupidity. But when supposedly ordinary people get into their cars too distracted or tired or--worse, much worse--impaired to pay adequate attention to the road, people get killed. In this case, a child. As far as I'm concerned, they should be taken out back and shot.

On June 19, local restaurant owner Susanna Goihman's Lexus struck and killed 15-year-old Kayla Peter as she was walking from a bus stop to her home just yards away. No one has yet identified the driver, but three days later, when Ms. Giohman admitted to police it was her car, no arrest was made. And Goihman ran away to Florida to hide out with her mother. Local residents began protest vigils outside Goiman's home and business. It's taken police over two months to make enough of a case to arrest Goihman, and now the hoopla really begins.

Goihman surrendered to police today wearing a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt. Dan Rubin of Blinq quotes various local Bloggers' outrage at the fact--deliberate or not--that Ms. Goihman would dare to appear in public sporting the image of the dead victim's high school mascot. Others mirror my own feeling that it was just plain bad taste to go before a judge in such a disrespectful outfit. Regardless, it only highlights the fact that Ms. Goihman has apparently no scruples about what she wears or does.

Rather than obsess on her fashion crimes, though, I say we focus our outrage where it belongs: somebody in Goihman's car hit Kayla Peter hard enough to kill her -- and ran away. Goihman claims innocence, but won't name the driver. All her lawyer said was, "It's a terrible intersection, across from a bus stop. It's very dark. It's certainly a place where other accidents have occurred."

Well. If that's her defense, it sucks. Just as her behavior has done for even longer. Goihman's already on probation for a drunken driving arrest. Her license was suspended for two months, but we don't know whether that suspension was already in force when her car killed Kayla Peter on June 19.

So was Goihman behind the wheel of her car or not? When questioned by reporters, Philly DA Lynne Abraham implied she was. "I, as a prosecutor, would never charge anybody with an offense we're not prepared to prove."

The current charge against Goihman is leaving the scene of a fatal accident, a third-degree felony, with a mandatory minimum of one year in prison and a maximum prison sentence of seven years. My first thought was HUH? One to seven years for snuffing out a 15-year-old life?

DA Abraham said the charge was filed to make sure Goihman, who's a native of Venezuela, would not flee the country. A grand jury investigation is underway which could return more serious charges. How about Criminal Negligence? Vehicular Murder? Excessive Evil?

Lynne Abraham has been around the block and then some. She's a Very tough cookie who's been known to make hardened criminals crumble. I'm glad she's on Kayla Peter's side -- surely the side of the angels. Let's hope she gets the goods on Suzanne Goihman, but good.

Labels: ,


Blogger Donna Persico said...

“JUSTICE FOR KAYLA” Main Street Bar Owners, Employees and Staff need to do the right thing.

As a 5th generation "Yunker" I have a passionate love for Manayunk (which by the way is a Lenipi Indian word meaning "Where we gather to drink" or "watering hole"). The Lenipi Indians didn't get into vehicles, after having too much to drink at "the watering hole"...ending their nights in death. NeuvoManayunk has no resemblance to the Manayunk I grew up in and love. These days my memories of Manayunk are far better than the reality of Main Street. I owned a business in the 80's at Main St. and Levering where I designed many of the business images for the Renaissance of Manayunk. At the first Manayunk Arts Festival I won "Best of Show" for my Main Street, Manayunk watercolor. In 1981 I painted the mural on the wall at the Green Lane Bridge that proclaims to people "Our way of living together in Manayunk is a strong but delicate fabric. Let us not tear it asunder. For no one knows, once it is destroyed, if its protective warmth will ever be found again".

The deaths of Kayla Peter and Jena McClelland are the end result of NeuvoManayunk, Philadelphia's chick Main Street! Do the bartenders of NeuvoManayunk ever say to party patrons "enough is enough". Do they ever refuse to serve. Is there a point at which, legally, they are obligated to not serve? The words of the painted mural have faded, perhaps our moral obligation has as well.

Susanna Goihman, according to her lawyer, Brian McGonigle "Would not knowingly hit a child..." No kidding Brian, after reportedly consuming five martinis on an empty stomach, and who knows how many at dinner, with her restaurant owner friend, it’s surpassing Susanna Goihman could find her car, let alone drive it!

The employees, owners and staff of the bars and restaurants Susanna Goihman patronized on June 19th need to do the right thing. Jena McClelland, dead on Christmas Eve 2001, in an auto accident, after being served and consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. Where was she served? Main Street, Manayunk. Kayla Peter, killed on Father's Day 2005, by a driver who was served and consumed a substantial amount of alcohol. Where? Main Street, Manayunk. "The Drinking Hole."

The delicate fabric has begun to tear with the deaths of Jena and Kayla.

Respectfully submitted,

Donna Persico

You might find this of interest from way back in 1996. I wondered during the 28 days of "Honk For Kayla" why Mr. Nutter, though I sent him an e-mail inviting him to do so, never came to the corner of Queen & Henry. I can't wait to find out who the restaurant owner was who went to dinner that night with Susanna Goihman. I wonder if it was anyone mentioned in this article from the past? Hummmmm

Email NewsletterDecember 19–26, 1996
pretzel logic
The Main Drag

Want a liquor license in Manayunk? Sign here, says the MDC.

By Howard Altman

In a normal place,restaurateur Roscoe Ingalls would be tickled at the
sight that unfolded before him two weeks ago.
The city's most famous chef, celebrating his birthday at Roscoe's Kodiak
Cafe, was pouring glass after glass of expensive wine and Champagne.
In a normal place, Ingalls would be grateful for Georges Perrier's
But Roscoe's Kodiak Cafe is located in no normal place. It is located in
Manayunk, where the Manayunk Development Corporation (MDC) is demanding
that restaurant owners either kowtow to their demands or have their duly
awarded liquor licenses appealed.
Last September, Ingalls obtained a liquor license from the State Liquor
Control Board (LCB). A few weeks later, the MDC appealed, prohibiting
Ingalls from selling booze pending a court hearing.
The wine and Champagne being poured by Perrier?
He carried it into the restaurant. The profits went to a liquor store, not
All because Ingalls refused to sign a contract drawn up by the MDC that
would have him promise, among other things, never to expand his business,
that live entertainment be restricted to two musicians and to kick in a
monthly fee to pay a valet parking service.
Why would the MDC do that?
The non-profit 200-member MDC, say Ingalls and other restaurateurs, is the
tool of Dan Neducsin, who is largely responsible for the revival of
Manayunk, where he owns more than 30 properties.
He has contributed at least $24,000 to Ed Rendell and $2,500 to local City
Councilman Michael Nutter. He is also a partner in the tony Kansas City
Prime and Sonoma restaurants and the new Arroyo Grille.
Ingalls, his wife Sharon and the owners of Tira Misu and Mainly Cigars say
that Neducsin has exerted undue influence with the MDC because he and his
partners — chef Derek Davis and Allen Newman — don't want to share.
"They are opposing us because we are the closest restaurant to Sonoma and
Kansas City Prime," says Sharon Ingalls. "It all boils down to
competition. We are not under their domination and control."
Roscoe Ingalls scoffs at one of the MDC's stated reasons for opposing new
liquor licenses.
"They said they don't want more kids coming here and pissing on the
street," says Roscoe. "Look at this menu. Do you think anyone paying $21
for tequila marinated salmon filet with mashed potato, bok choy and
pickled ginger wasabi sauce is going to piss on the street?"
The Ingallses never signed the contract.
Neither did Alberto DelBello, owner of Tira Misu and Il Portico.
On Nov. 2, 1995, the LCB awarded DelBello a liquor license. Shortly after,
the MDC, unable to get DelBello to sign an agreement, appealed. Like the
Ingallses, DelBello's liquor license is useless pending a hearing in
Common Pleas Court.
Again, like the Ingallses, who say that the cafe will struggle if it
cannot sell booze, DelBello is furious. He says he has already sunk
$700,000 into his planned restaurant, which will either be glatt kosher
Italian or a contemporary bistro, and he's tired of the waiting and the
mounting bills.
"The MDC is a dummy corporation working for Derek Davis, Allen Newman and
Dan Neducsin," says the Rome-born chef. "Why should I sign such a
document? Why should I limit myself, knowing that they happen to have
restaurants and are afraid of the competition?"
DelBello and the owners of Mainly Cigars, which cannot even get a zoning
variance to open a restaurant, say it is no secret why the MDC has
appealed the liquor licenses. And why Nutter, who represents Manayunk, is
pushing an ordinance that would impose a moratorium on new restaurants on
Main Street.
"Any intelligent person in Philadelphia would have to think Neducsin's
campaign contributions are a contributing factor," says DelBello. "I have
restaurants all over the world. Hong Kong, Istanbul, Bali, Tokyo, Jakarta,
Italy, 20 in Manhattan and two others in Philadelphia. I have never seen
anything like this anywhere else in the world."
"Am I going to fight this? You bet," adds DelBello. "I'm the guy with
balls. I am taking them on. There are a lot of people here with their life
savings on the line and these people are playing power politics."
That ain't necessarily so, say Neducsin, Davis, Nutter and Kevin Feeley,
spokesman for Mayor Ed Rendell. MDC President Kay Smith was out of town
and unavailable for comment. No other MDC official could be reached for
"I don't see the connection [between political contributions and the MDC's
actions]," says Neducsin. "I had nothing to do with [the appeals]."
Nor is there any concern about competition, he adds.
The only issue is parking.
He says that, before opening his restaurants, he created a 250-car lot.
Any new restaurant, he says, should be similarly responsible.
"I welcome any new restaurant, the more the merrier," he says. "But before
opening, the owners should make sure there is enough parking."
Ditto for Davis.
"The only issue is the competition for parking. The other owners are being
irresponsible when they believe they can come in here and open new
businesses and not provide for customers."
The danger, says Davis, is if the perception grows that diners cannot find
parking in Manayunk, they might start looking elsewhere for eats.
Nutter is even more concerned about a possible end to Manayunk's revival.
His proposed ordinance, he says, was created to change the mix of
businesses on Main Street. He says the strip will not flourish with only
Nutter denies charges of favoritism.
"They have the luxury of being myopically concerned with their own
self-interest," says Nutter of those making the charge. "I have the
responsibility of being concerned with the entire street. I have not
stopped anyone from getting a liquor license."
Feeley agrees.
"It is absurd to suggest that the Rendell administration would attempt to
exert any undue influence in this process," he says. "If the MDC is
protesting these licenses, it is because it believes that is the right
thing to do."
The Ingallses, DelBello and the owners of Mainly Cigars don't buy that.
"You never see the MDC appeal Neducsin," says Dave Salvo, one of the
owners of Mainly Cigars. "It seems in Manayunk, some people can get
whatever they want."

11:34 AM  
Blogger sdRay said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Donna Persico said...

Susanna was released from Cambridge Springs on Sunday May 30,2010. SAD..........

8:21 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home