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Madison Teenager’s Death Leaves Sadness For All

May 31, 2009

UPDATE

This post was written after the first news stories were reported, and all the facts were not known.  My effort to present kids acting like kids on a warm spring night was what I felt the situation to be at the time.  The facts later show that not to be the case.  My writing below reflected first impressions.

The young guy walking on the sidewalk by our home Sunday afternoon was probably no more than 13, and appeared to be of the age where he might grow a couple inches taller before the next school year started in September.  I glanced up from the paper I was reading, nodded, and said hello as he passed.  But there was a slowness to his stride, and just something that looked wrong, given the sunshine that was beaming down.  It all made the next words just tumble out of my mouth. 

“Can I help you with something?”  I asked.

“Do you have the Sunday paper?” he responded. 

I told him that I did not have the Wisconsin State Journal, but could I help him find something.

“I am looking for an obituary for a friend of mine.”

I knew at once who he was needing to read about in the paper.  He confirmed my thoughts the more we talked.  I told the young person I would make a copy of the article at the college on Monday, and he could pick it up later that day, if it would help him.  He thanked me, and said he really needed to see the paper sooner than that. 

I understood.  His voice and way of walking said it all.

Here we are at the height of spring, school is soon to be over, summer and all the promise it holds is around the corner, and our city confronts the fragility of life.  Worse yet, the fragility of youth.

We hear of traffic accidents all the time, and sadly there are causalites with some of them.  But when the accident claims the life of a 15-year-old girl, who like all kids holds so much hope, we all feel the loss.

There will be further investigations into what happened that resulted in the car accident, but the result will likely show that young people once again thought they were invincible.  And who among my readers does not know the feeling?  Who does not recall the warm spring nights of being a kid?

People will point fingers, and try to assess blame.  But I suspect there is no one to blame for the sadness.   Instead young kids, and the exuberance of living life met with the harshness of reality.

Growing up can be hard, especially when the lessons of life are presented so abruptly.

Later on Sunday afternoon the clear blue skies gave way to some clouds and even a chilly breeze.  I think the whole City of Madison feels a bit like the young man on the sidewalk today. 

P.S.  If anyone knows of the young guy I speak about, I think he needs a hug or two.

One Comment
  1. Solly permalink
    June 1, 2009 9:47 AM

    Surely it’s appropriate to extend condolences to the family and friends of the children who were killed or injured in this crash. This line in the news struck me: “All six people in the car at the time of the crash were under the age of 16.”

    It reminded me of this discussion:
    https://dekerivers.wordpress.com/2009/05/04/madisons-proposed-curfew-law-bad-idea/

    Would it have made a difference in this case if instead of weakening the the Madison curfew ordinance last month the council strengthened it as was proposed and giving the impression the curfew is a joke? Likely not. Just like the law that says drivers with a learning permit (IF the driver indeed did have one) can only carry a licensed older driver in the vehicle, not 5 additional teens 15 or under. It takes people obeying and respecting the law, parents instilling that in their kids, and insisting that they know who they’re with, and how they’re getting there and back, and to be home, yes, before curfew and yes if you don’t feel safe getting in a vehicle, call and we will pick you up.

    There will probably be roadside memorials, with balloons and teddy bears and cards. Whatever it takes to work through the grief. I hope for every item in that memorial, dozens or hundreds, a parent takes the time to talk about what happened, and yes, lay down the law, the household law, that they’re going to know where their kids are this summer, so that we don’t read about this again.

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