Editorial: A public tragedy
For the family, friends and loved ones of Deanna Haywood, it is a heart-wrenching shock and the source of immeasurable grief and pain. For those with no personal connection to Saturday morning’s accident, it is something else: Part of a much wider public tragedy.
The scene is all too familiar; a promising young person about to enter the prime of life losing control of her vehicle … and her life. Here was a high school senior full of life and excitement about to go to that evening’s Mathews High School prom, taken in the blink of an eye.
The wider tragedy is that this incident is not nearly as isolated as it should be. In our communities, far too many young men and women have had their lives cut short in this way. Perhaps it’s because they lack the experience of more seasoned drivers, yet also possess the illusion of invincibility that seems to be a birthright of the young. Maybe it’s due to our rural life; while ideal in some respects for raising children, it also isolates them, causing them to drive great distances to friends, jobs and attractions. In some cases, they have been distracted by friends and by the siren call of the virtual world—text messages, Facebook postings, Twitter feeds. Sometimes they don’t fasten their seat belts. And in still other cases, it is an age-old fatal mix of alcohol and driving.
Whatever the cause, the result is often the same—a young life ended. We could offer some meaningless blandishment or generic public remedy, such as requiring additional classes to instruct our young people about the varied dangers of distracted driving, but they have been given these warnings many times before. Saying them again would probably do little but create white noise, a faint buzzing in the ear.
But perhaps Deanna’s death will serve as a grim reminder—at least to her classmates—about the frailty of human life and the need to be vigilant behind the wheel. To those personally affected by Saturday’s tragedy, our hearts go out to you. To the rest, hold your children tight and give thanks that they, and you, were spared this fate.