Holiday weekend tragedy in my community.
Frank 2011/07/04 23:42:51
Several weeks ago ”Jackass” star Ryan Dunn crashed and perished with a passenger while going 135 miles per hour in his Porsche. This occurred on route 322 at the route 100 exit in West Chester Pa. The crash is about 15 minutes from where I live in Downingtown Pa. I have passed the site several times noting the skid marks and the tree killed in the fire. The crash was national news. There are always between 5-10 people at the side of the road at the crash site paying respects. It has been said that original copies of the Daily Local News (of Chester County- based in West Chester) reporting the accident have sold on e-bay for $11,000, and that scavengers at the crash site sold pieces of the wreck- rumor has it that the Porsche emblem went for $20,000. Today (July 4) as we prepared for a cookout and my Daughter’s birthday, I found myself struggling to concentrate at the grocery store. I found it difficult to find the last minute items I needed for our plans. The events of weekend were on my mind. Yesterday (July 3) the kids were texting and face booking with friends and word was spreading of the car accident at 1:00 am Sunday (July 3) morning. It was said that 4 boys form out high school were killed in a one car accident at route 322 and Route 82 - about 15 miles from the Ryan Dunn crash site. I also pass that area frequently. It is about 10 minutes from my house. There was nothing in the Sunday papers- but internet searches of newspaper websites provided some scant information of the breaking story. The names were not released yet- although within several hours the kids had the names of the 4 boys through the “grapevine” . There was some conflicting information-some mis-information. This morning’s newspapers had more details and the names of the boys. They were the names my son and daughter had heard about. The 4 boys were ages 14, 15, 16. And 17 years old. Pa. State Law has a curfew of 11:00 for drivers under the age of 18. As stated earlier the accident occurred at 1:00 am. The 16 year old boy was driving. It was reported that the car was thought to have been traveling at a high rate of speed when it hit a dip in the road and became airborne, hit an embankment and landed on it’s roof. All 4 boys were ejected. It was also reported that illegal substances were found at the crash site. All 4 were students of Coatesville High School. My youngest 2 children attend Coatesville and know of these boys and know friends and acquaintances of these 4. One of them was in a class with my son. I find myself thinking of Ryan Dunn and the constant visitors to his crash site. I have a hard time feeling sorry for him, and a little annoyed at the visitors to his crash site- creating a hazard on the side of a highway, and some profiting from the tragedy. He was only known to most through his movies and shows. He was part of the community- but I believe that the sense of tragedy and loss in the Ryan Dunn accident pales in comparison to that of these 4 boys. I felt sorry for Ryan Dunn’s passenger- and his family. Apparently he had a child and had recently returned from Iraq. But, although not a national news story- I guess it happens too frequently- this is by far the greatest loss to the community. I find myself thinking of the stupidity of teenagers at times. My stupidity at times at that age- and how I and many others “got away” with doing stupid things. And one friend of mine who did not. He, incidentally, lived less than one mile from the Ryan Dunn crash site. He suffered a serious head injury in a car accident in 1980- 6 weeks before our High School graduation. He has been permanently affected by the head injury. He was driving on route 100 about 7 miles north of the Ryan Dunn crash site. I think of the cross on my sister-in -law’s lawn. About 15 years ago a West Chester College student was killed in a head -on collision with a drunk driver on Route 322, just east of route 82- less than ½ mile from this tragic accident. Also about 1 ½ years ago not too far from all of this 4 other Coatesville High School students were killed in an accident. The driver was texting while driving and swerved in the path of a dump truck. This one hit a little too close to home. The questions that obviously surround this crash will resonate throughout this community for quite some time. But the senseless absurdity of this tragedy is what is the most difficult to comprehend. As a parent, I know kids can lie, kids can do stupid things- teenagers can be teenagers. I don’t think that these were terrible kids. One was a catcher on the High School Baseball Team. They were loved, and there will be much grief in the community. But teenagers can and occasionally will do dumb things. Even the good ones. And hopefully they will “get away” with it- and look back as adults and wonder what the hell they were thinking. I have been lucky- my kids are good kids. They do well in school- I do not believe that they have ever used drugs- nor have I ever seen evidence of drug use. But I know sometimes making poor choices and learning from them is part of growing up- part of the learning process. I came home from the grocery store and gave my 15 year old son- my youngest a hug. And I held it for a while. Feel free to comment.
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