LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Crash is a wake-up call

Mar 28, 2012

This is a wake-up call to parents, school and sport officials and students. School was canceled because of the fog to keep the students safe; therefore, the game should have been postponed. How many teenage students were driving to the game in the fog?

Were parents aware of the fog? Did any parents say, “You can’t go because the weather is too bad”? How many parents knew who was driving? A 16-year-old should not be driving a 2- or 3-ton SUV on the interstate in the fog, much less speeding and “flying” by in the passing lane. And everyone in the car, even in the back seat, should wear a seat belt!

Our job, as parents, is to protect our children from themselves, because teenagers believe they are invincible and they think, “It can’t happen to me." But bad things happen to good people! We must learn to say “no” to our children for safety sake.

This entire situation was a tragedy. The girls and their parents now experience a living hell with the injury of their beautiful girls, feeling pain, hospitalizations, rehabilitation, police reports, insurance claims, possible lawsuits, loss of work and school, and a long road to recover — but ever so grateful the girls are alive! My thoughts and prayers are with you. I wish the girls a complete recovery and the parents the very best in dealing with the aftermath of this accident.

— Faye Donselar, Grand Haven

(Editor's note: Grand Haven schools were on a two-hour delay, not a cancellation, on the day of the crash due to fog. Also, police said at the time that fog was not a factor in the crash.)

Comments

ohwell

You bring up some good points. However, I would ask that you get your facts straight before writing a letter to the editor. As you see from the editor's notes, school was NOT cancelled, just postponed due to the fog. You ask were the parents aware of the fog. Well it would be pretty hard not to be aware of the fog, as it was not a sporadic fog, it was a dense fog that covered the whole West MI area. Then you ask how many parents knew who was driving. Unless the students lied to their parents, every parent knew who was driving or who was riding the school bus provided by the district to the students. I had to sign for both of my kids to go to the game, and state how they were getting there.

It is easy to Monday morning quarterback the whole situation. I know I have done some stupid things throughout my life, and I would bet we all have. What I hope the district learned from this tragedy, is that there should never be any students driving to sport functions such as these. I am talking about these big state games where they are giving the kids the day off school to go watch, and that are this far away. We all pay taxes and there should not be any reason that the district isn't providing transportation to all the students that wanted to go. If for some reason the district doesn't want to, or think they can, then the students should have stayed in school the whole day.

GH Citizen

To Ohwell:
There is no need to defend or point fingers at the author or the school district. I thank the author for bringing up a great conversation. While yes there are some errors in the statement, is it really far from the truth?
The key to all readers should be a simple one. Learn from the mistakes, don't assign blame, and don’t make excuses. LEARN! Because if you don't, then you cannot accept a different outcome the next time around.
In the end the students made some bad mistakes, including having alcohol with them as well, while not reported presently under the influence of it. As parents we cannot be with our kids all the time, but we can do our best to instill the basic principles of safety, so that when we are not there, they do make the right choices. Life is all about learning from our mistakes. Sadly these kids paid a high price. You can only learn and move on. But please don't play the excuse and blame game. Or we are no better off today than we are before the accident.
Also keep in mind another lack of seatbelt use accident occurred recently with three Holland kids on lakeshore. One of which was sent to a Trauma 1 ER (Spectrum). For me and my kids it’s an involuntary motion to buckle up the second we enter the car. Is this a larger issue than I realized, with kids today?

sobe

Sigh. So sad to see this tragic event recuperated for yet another self-righteous rant. It would seem fitting to exhibit some restraint and respect given the severity of the outcome instead of trying to make it into a " teachable moment".

jvc

I hate the expression "teachable moment", yet it is appropriate given the severity of the outcome. I sincerely hope all of the girls recover fully, The fact is, very few teenagers think about the consequences of their actions...and I'm not just talking injuries. The lives of their parents and other members of their family are dramatically altered. The loss of time at work, the strain something like this can put on relationships, etc., have a huge impact. Teenagers are by nature self centered, and using a situation like this to explain why it is so important to be responsible could prevent future occurances. I am NOT condemning the girls...this could have happened to anyone. I am saying that using this as a "teachable moment" could prevent other people from having a similar tragedy.

someone

Let me start out by saying, yes, the accident was terrible and it's a shame these poor girls were injured so badly and these families hurt in the way they were. I pray every day for those girls to be fully healed and be home with their families and back to their normal lives. But at the same time, you cannot say, "Well, they were hurt so they have no reason to be punished for what they did." They caused the accident themselves with their careless driving and could have very well injured others besides just themselves. Whether they were hurt or others were hurt should not determine if they are punished by the law or not. They were in the wrong and should still be treated as any other person who would have done the same. Not accounting for being minors in possesion (we won't include that, becuase I know there's a tizzy that it could have been the parents or not. Even if it was there's, there is no way I would ever let my child take my vehicle with 4 other teenagers all the way to Lansing without checking to make sure everything was cleared out and safe first), the driver will at least be charged with reckless driving and reckless endangerment. I really hope this whole situation will serve as a lesson to young drivers everywhere, to keep your cellphones away from you while driving, not to become to distracted with other passengers in the car, and even with all the excitement of the game and supporting your community, PLEASE pay more attention to what you are doing. Please realize that the saftey of not only yourself, but all other people around you, is in your hands when you're driving a machine like that.

Zeke

You have it all figured out, don't you? Perhaps you should share your "wisdom" and hold a parenting seminar, or do some training of local attorneys on when to press charges and when not to. Or maybe you should just keep your mean-spirited opinions to yourself. Yes, I think that's the best option.

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