On August 10th, eight people were killed in another tragic yet preventable accident, but few media outlets have paid attention to it, except for local papers. This story is just as compelling, and most disheartening of all, like the Schuler case, a number of innocent children were killed.
The tragedy began the night before the accident when three young guys attacked an employee of a Denny's restaurant while he was taking a break. They beat him and stole his car. One of the men was a gang member and another had recently been released from jail. He was released almost 100 days early.
The next afternoon an officer witnessed the very same car running a stop sign. He gave pursuit, and while attempting to elude capture, the thieves sped through the intersection at 85 to 90 mph.
As the carjackers were driving recklessly toward the fateful intersection, a young couple with five children was headed to a youth football game. The speeding car crashed into the GMC pickup, killing all five children and leading to the deaths of the three occupants of the stolen car.
Some people place blame on the police. A sister of one of occupants of the stolen car made this comment, "They're innocent little boys. I think the cops scared them. We'd like a thorough investigation."
Sadly, none of the kids were wearing seat belts, and the mother was holding the youngest in her lap. Jochelyn 7, Monique 4, Michael 3, and Sienna 1, died at the scene. Carlos, age 8, died later at the hospital. Both parents survived. One second, these people had five kids, and now, none.
What led to this tragic event? First, a man was released from prison over three months early, and he would then join up with fellow gang members (prison obviously failed in reforming this young man), becoming an accomplice to carjacking, and finally manslaughter (basically suicide, as well) while fleeing the police. Second, the pursuit led to reckless driving. Third, none of the children were wearing safety restraints. Even though a number of the children were less than 60 pounds and were younger than 6 years of age, no car seats or booster seats were found at the site of the accident.
Fourth, and most compelling to me, is the family history of 19-year-old Arthur, the recently released juvenile. An older brother died in 2005 of stab wounds, and another died in 2003 of medical complications. Now the mother has no surviving sons. These young men lived a life of delinquency; they followed their father's footsteps. They found a life on the streets, in gangs, as criminals. President Obama made this observation recently: "Any fool can father a child. That doesn't make you a father. It's the courage to raise a child that makes you a father."
Parents, always make sure your children wear their seat belts! Families, take accountability. The fault here lies in the hands of the deceased carjackers. But it also lies in the hands of their family members and friends. Their sons chose to live life as criminals. When I see family members complaining that the police officer's choice to pursue these criminals led to the deaths of these eight individuals, I cannot help but wonder whether they have created a home environment where blame can always be handed to someone else. In such a case, they may want to look at themselves and wonder if they could have done anything to keep their kids out of trouble.