August 21, 2011: A date that a small Atlantic County, N.J., community will forever remember. It was one year ago that 4 local high school athletes were forever taken in a fatal car accident on the Garden State Parkway. A total of 8 students were in the vehicle, and if luck can be used in any sense of the word, graciously, 4 survived.
The tragedy became national news. There was instantaneous outpouring of love and support. Even our own Philadelphia Phillies respectfully shared a moment of silence before their game, as 30-plus classmates cheered them on. But we need to remember that that is exactly what they were…are…victims.
There has been a community sh*tstorm raging since a local paper publicized the toxicology report that 3 of the 4 boys were under the influence of marijuana. As a parent, my feelings are conflicted because, believe it or not, I was a kid once. At that age, you believe you are indestructible, nothing will ever happen to you, except fail a midterm or not get invited to a senior party. But it seems the locals would like this declaration to be kept out of the papers – the friends and families of these boys have been hurting enough, no need to pour more salt in the wound by casting blame. And I agree, to an extent; bear with me.
Sadly you have to think that, yes, the drivers’ senses were “altered,” causing a knee jerk reaction to the change in the traffic pattern ahead of him, go terribly wrong. The reporter’s acknowledgement of the driver and 2 others showing marijuana in their system has everyone boycotting the paper, but sadly, couldn’t that really be what caused the accident to happen? The reporter is getting crucified, and being accused of sensationalism. Maybe, but in her defense, why were these reports made public now, when 2 of the boys should have just left for college? Bad (disrespectful) timing, if you ask me.
Unfortunately, I have known classmates and friends who have been taken too soon by situations like these. My hometown of Medford, N.J., was rocked by a tragedy very similar to the outcome of this one (Precious Gems Memorial). And I’m sure there isn’t one person reading this who cannot truthfully say that they have never driven under the influence. If you believe that bullshit you should get into politics my friend. These families are still going through the grieving process and anger is always prevalent. But when the day is done, these boys will continue to be cherished, continued to be remembered, and continue to live in the hearts of those who knew them.