Cause of deaths no mystery

Published 1:24 pm Wednesday, April 16, 2008

By Staff
In the last few days, there have been nine deaths in this area and another victim is listed in critical condition and not expected to survive.
The victims are Marissa Nicole Ritchie, 18 (Dead); Jacob Clemmons, 20 (Dead); William Anthony Abston, 23 (Dead); Shannon Wade Haney, 24 (Dead); Jermaine Maurice Holcombe, 27 (Dead); Deborah Padgett Rowell, 54 (Dead); Michael Joe Edwards, 17 (Dead); Daniel A. Smith, 16 (Dead); Jessica Smith Flannigan, 20 (Dead); Jacob Castleberry, 17 (critical condition).
What killed all these people in such a short period of time?  Not a deadly strain of flu, not a madman on a rampage.  They were all killed in traffic accidents.
Most of these people were very young.  They had their whole lives ahead of them.  Now they're gone, leaving nothing behind but people who loved them and will spend the rest of their lives grieving.
The only thing they've all got in common is that they thought it would never happen to them.  You think that too, don't you?  So do I.  I'm careful.  I don't drive under the influence, I don't speed, I don't talk on my cell phone while driving down the road at 70 mph, I'm careful.  It won't happen to me. Unless…
See, everytime I'm on the road,  people are driving like complete idiots.  You know the type – they can't stand to see another vehicle in front of them.  They pass everything in sight, sometimes only to slam on the brakes in front of a car they just passed to make a turn.  They run stop signs, they run red lights, they run off the road, they tail gate, they assume they can drive however they like, because nobody ever told them different.  Most of them are young.  Is it any wonder the obituaries are full of death notices that shouldn't be there?
We followed a driver the other night who was weaving on and off the road on both sides.  He finally got in one lane and stayed there.  The wrong lane.  He traveled a total distance of almost a mile on the WRONG SIDE of the road, around curves, over hills… until the traffic officer we'd called finally got there and got him off the road.  
That one was definitely drunk.  But most of the people you see driving carelessly simply have very BAD driving habits!
So what can we do?  Report dangerous drivers to law enforcement.  If you live on a road where people consistently speed or drive recklessly, keep calling your local law enforcement until there's a patrol car out there everytime you look. They can't do anything about the problem unless they know there is one.  (And after you call ‘em out there and get a ticket yourself, slow down and consider it a lesson well learned!)
Investigate your own kids.  Don't assume that just because the state gave them a driver's license, that they know how to drive.  Follow them when they don't know you're there.  Have someone else follow them.  Watch what they're doing.  You'll probably be shocked.  And when you find out the truth, take some effective action.  You're paying for the automobile, you're paying for the insurance.  Until they can drive it in a responsible manner, take it off the road.  Make them ride with you when they need to go somewhere, just like you did when they were twelve.
Maybe you don't have that kind of control.  But if you ride with someone or even know someone who habitually speeds or otherwise operates a vehicle in a dangerous manner, put a club upside their head.  Refuse to ride with them.  Don't laugh it off.  Make them aware of just how stupid they're being.  
Do something about the problem.  You may make some folks mad, but you may also save some lives.  I'm sure if Marissa, Jacob, William, Shannon, Jermaine, Deborah, Michael, Daniel, Jessica and Jacob were able to talk, they'd tell you the same thing…
Deborah Bell
Flomaton resident