Last week the provincial courts rendered a verdict of one count of dangerous driving causing death, in the November 1, 2012 car accident involving a 17 year old driver. The police estimated the vehicle speed at 108km/hr, when the driver lost control of the SUV rounding a turn on Wellington Crescent and struck a tree. Of the four teenage passengers, one was killed, two were sent to hospital with major injuries and one walked away with no physical injuries.
I never knew the families involved in the accident. I was still left with a deep sense of loss after hearing of the news. One wrong decision resulted in all that pain. I remember thinking, the pain is just a question of time. If we could know the results before our actions, would we make the same choice? It seems so simple to just take a different action when feeling the recesses of pain from consequences as a result of our actions.
The next section of writing was penned not long after the accident. It was never published because the writer didn’t feel time made it appropriate. After reading the outcomes last week, time made it appropriate.
Have you ever watched the circles of water pushing out from a landing when a stone breaks the surface or the wake created from a boat bow cutting through the water. These visual indications are the consequences of action. The ripples that change the surface of the water are unpredictable. How many are created or how far the disruption will travel is an unknown. Well marina operators kinda know, they have signs posted to make you aware of your boat wake.
My daughter’s boyfriend recalls one of our first conversations where I tried explaining consequences of actions. The intent was to have him understand how valuable my daughter was and force him to comprehend his responsibility. Her life was trusted in his hands when they went out. The only part of her that his actions were permitted to break was her heart and nothing physical.
It was a dialogue exchange I developed for any would be suitors while attending my daughter’s birth. I hoped to stop time. If you know the outcomes of bad decisions then you won’t make bad decisions. Actually, I was hoping the dad talk would scare him off without having to resort to cleaning my hunting rifle in his presence. My strategy doesn’t appear to have worked, the boyfriend relationship has morphed into a soon to be son-in-law.
Think of a decision you have made and after the fallout, your realization the choice made was bad. What emotions did that time illicit after the decision? If the decision resulted in positive outcomes, time provided no second thoughts. Without the positive outcome, did time continually return feelings of regret, remorse, shame or anger?
A coach told me a story of chastising a player for scoring a winning goal. The hockey player had taken a slap shot from the blue line when a better option was to give the shot to the winger off the side of the net by making a pass. The player’s shot, after careening off a number of human obstacles, wound up between the pipes. The fans cheered and all the winning players rushed to back slap the winning goal hero.
The coach let the player have his moment in the glory and then took him aside for a chat. The goal was a positive outcome from a bad decision. The player got rewarded for it. That still doesn’t change the decision. The coach reminded the player of what plays had been discussed. What was practiced and what was expected in specific game situations. In the future the player could expect to be benched if he decided to take a similar shot when other options were available.
If we were given the luxury of rolling back time after the knowledge is gained there would be no bad decisions. We know a different decision would be made with the knowledge of the outcome. Unfortunately time is not that friendly. Time gives you access to the knowledge of your decision. Time doesn’t play fair. No do-overs on some decisions.
Our community neighborhood was changed the first week of November. The ripples has altered more than five families involved. My first reaction after hearing the details was anger, followed by a deep sense of loss. One bad decision by a young mind has effected so many lives. As a parent, I grieved the loss with a spiritual plea there would be something good from this.
During the trial the court was told the teen driver took immediate responsibility for his actions. He apologized to the parents of the teen who died and took it upon himself to visit the injured classmates in hospital regularly. The parents of the deceased asked that the courts not to send the driver to jail but rather have him speak to others about the consequences of this actions. The court received letters from the surviving passengers’ parents that they didn’t support jail time for the accused either.
My desire for something good from this has been delivered this week. The driver is an example of someone taking responsibility for their actions. He will never completely heal the wounds of his actions but taking ownership starts the process. The words to the courts from the parents of the lost and injured children can be part of the healing process.
The judge sentenced the man to two years probation, prohibited the man from driving for two years and during his probation he will be required to conduct four “seminars” on dangerous driving at Children of the Earth School. Maybe these talks will stop time for someone. The story will be coming from a peer and it will show them the results of actions, before the consequences.