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It would most likely sound cliche for me to say in light of recent events in Spencer County that life is precious — but are we ever really at risk of saying that too much?
Spencer County has gotten off to a heartbreaking start to 2012, with an apparent homicide and the loss of two high school juniors in a fatal accident. Most recently, Kentucky State Police released its update regarding the Jan. 18 fatal crash that claimed the lives of Michaella “Mikie” Monroe and Shelby Bockting. That report outlined four factors that contributed to the rollover crash. According to the report, those factors included the lack of seat belt usage, speeding, driving while under the influence and intermediate licensing violations.
I don’t think the facts outlined in that report were what anyone had hoped they would be — but don’t let that overshadow the value of the lives lost or how they were fiercely loved by their family and friends. I feel it is important to point out that none of the four factors noted in the police report were designated as more or less influential in the crash. And for anyone that questioned if either girl was supported by her friends or family, just know that an estimated 1,000 people attended the joint funeral service.
While the facts are extremely important to understanding the circumstances surrounding the accident, the families should not be shamed by some in the public because of them. More than at any other time, these families need support now.
Let’s take this tragic incident and learn from it. Teenagers — and drivers of all ages: Life might feel like it will last forever right now, but it will not. No set amount of days is promised to us. Parents across the world are hurting because they have lost children in one way or another. It is a sad reality of this life. But remember that decisions that we make in haste can often have permanent consequences.
Here are a few things that I have personally gleaned from the recent events:
• Seat belt use is paramount. As The Spencer Magnet highlighted shortly after the crash, seat belts save lives. It is a fact. Please buckle up, every time.
• Speeding, although almost universally accepted, is a contributing factor in many serious accidents. There is no destination that is worth risking your life over, so, if you’re like me and usually running late, just remember that getting to the destination late is better than not getting there at all.
• Driving while under the influence of anything that causes an altered state of consciousness — whether it be prescription pain medications, alcohol, cold medicines, sleep deprivation or drugs of any kind — is a bad idea. I will also throw in cell phone usage while driving as well, as it has caused countless accidents. Please, please think of yourselves, those who love you, and the people you share the road with when choosing to drive and make the decision to do it completely sober every time.
• Teen drivers are in an amazing part of their lives. They are experiencing new freedoms and learning new responsibilities. With that comes increased danger. Teen drivers and those responsible for them: Know that driving is a privilege, not a right, and should be treated as such.
Spencer County, I challenge you to rally around the friends and family of Mikie Monroe and Shelby Bockting like never before. Show them the grace we all need, as we have all made bad choices and mistakes. Let the lasting lesson of this tragedy be about making positive decisions.