OUR VIEWS: Lives depend on sound judgment

Jun 28, 2012


It becomes second nature to slide into the driver’s seat, snap the seat belt, fire up the engine and head on your way.

It takes a serious wake-up call for us to remember just how much responsibility we shoulder when we operate a motor vehicle.

The recent crash that resulted in the death of John Shumaker rocked our small community — and, at the same time, drastically altered the course of life for the driver of the vehicle who struck Shumaker’s vehicle.

That driver, according to police, was operating under the influence of drugs.

What will it take for people to learn that drinking and driving or drug abuse just don’t mix?

There are countless ways to avoid it: Don’t drink. Don’t do drugs. If you do either, don’t drive. Find a ride from a friend. Call a cab. Stay with a friend.

Maybe making one of those choices will get you in trouble. Tough. Deal with it. If you’re going to succumb to the temptation of alcohol or drugs, then it’s your responsibility to deal with the consequences.

If you don’t, look at what can happen. A family is now without its loving husband and father, and the driver of the car who caused the head-on collision — just 24 years old with his entire life ahead of him — is facing up to 15 years in prison.

It’s a heartbreaking situation, made all the worse by the fact that it was brought about by such a serious lack of judgment.

So please, when you get behind the wheel, be sure you’re in a suitable state of mind to drive. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t text, don’t fiddle with your GPS. And by all means, don’t drink or do drugs before driving.

Somebody’s life could depend on it, and that somebody could be you.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Kevin Collier and Liz Stuck. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



Not until penalties are harsher, and followed through, many people aren't going to get it. This young man is facing up to 15 years, meaning there is good chance he will get less. There should be mandatory sentences, not these up to X amount of years. This is a black and white case, he confessed to smoking pot several hours prior to driving. Get a go straight to jail card for at least 15 years, which is not long enough anyway. Put him away for life, along with others that commit similar crimes. This isn't a case of this is possibly what happened, HE admitted his guilt already. Then and only then will people take notice and realize if I do commit this crime, I will get this mandatory sentence. I realize people are going to get up in arms about what I just posted, but nothing will change unless the punishments don't. And if he does 15 years, that will put him around 40, that leaves plenty of life left to do the same thing again. Therefore, he should have his license taken away for life, if he gets off with a small amount of jail time. When he gets sick of walking or begging for a ride everywhere, he might just realize what he did. It will not do anyone any good, if he does a few years in jail, and then is allowed to get behind the wheel again. I still vote for life in prison.


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