Could be that since I was nearly killed by one my freshman year in college, my view is a bit skewed. In fact, the bastard longshoreman who smashed into my world at 18 not only counted my accident as his third, but he went on to get at least two more within a year’s time before I just stopped paying attention to him. But I digress …
I have been heartbroken over news this week of a local high school student killed in a drunk driving accident. Not only was she killed instantly, but her driver was a 16-year-old boy.
What the what? Where are his parents? Where did he get the alcohol? Why is his bail only set at $51,000–is that the price of a life?
The families of both of these children … yes, children … are irrevocably changed. Forever. And here I sit, 20 years later, still furious at the continued sad state of drunk driving filling the roadways.
The News & Observer had an interesting article in this morning’s paper with the slug, “Others could be charged in Raleigh girl’s death.” Well, no shit … you think?
What if she didn’t go out with him Saturday night? What if they had just put on their seatbelts? What if his parents knew where he was and what he was doing. What if hers did?
My mother’s great-aunt always said, “if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle” … meaning that ‘if’ doesn’t really get you anywhere. But in this case, it does: what if that had been my son in the driver’s seat, or in the passenger seat? What if he hasn’t learned through example and conversation the difference between right and wrong? What if he gets in a situation where he’s scared to call home for help, or a ride home?
One thing I’ve learned for certain over the last two decades: drunk drivers never learn. But the people in their lives should. Know where your children are. Know what they’re doing and with whom. Give them a specific time to be home and know how much money they’ve got with them. Know the types of conversations they have on the phone and through social media. Ask them why they might feel the need to sneak out. Parenting is a lifelong job, so don’t give me any grief about your 18-year-old being old enough to be an adult. Parent up! Be involved. Better your children think you’re a tool than for them to be dead. Or to kill someone else.
Rest in peace, Elizabeth Molloy. And to Garrett Lane Prince I say this: now you know the price a person can pay for a bad decision; for a moment of weakness or perceived coolness. May you find some peace in prison. And may both of your families find peace in the days, months and years to come.
And may your friends never have to duplicate the horrendous bad decision you so callously followed last weekend.
“Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
– St. Francis