Senseless tragedies must come to an end

By TIM BEELAND,

If asked to describe the just-finished holiday season in one word I think it would have to be hectic, but on the other hand, I might choose senseless instead.

Not complaining, nor whining — really I’m kind of doing both — but due to the Christmas and New Year holidays falling on a Tuesday we had some very early press deadlines to enable us to get your papers printed and in the mail to you before the Post Office closed.

When I say very early, I mean “very, very early” starting with the Christmas edition going to press the Friday before Christmas when the paper normally prints on a Tuesday for Wednesday delivery. That said, we made our deadlines, you got your papers — or you should have gotten your papers — on your regular day and such is life in the print world.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been more happy to be back working five days a week again as I am today. Of course, in the newspaper business there really is no five-day work week, it’s more like eight, but enough of that.

Unfortunately as we return to our regular print schedule we are forced to print the horrible news you read, or will read, on page one. Death is never easy but when it’s a young child, or multiple members of one family in an easily avoidable traffic accident the grief is more widespread than ever.

The accident that claimed the life of young Madi McDill and her grandmother on Hwy. 35 at Walmart in Forest in the waning days of December put a damper on the holiday spirit throughout Scott County. It should never have happened, but tragically the driver that hit them allegedly chose to drink and drive which has proven time and again to be a deadly combination.

The news worsened over the weekend when yet another Highway 35 accident just north of Forest claimed the life of Randy Rand. It is still under investigation but appears to have been a head-on collision and most likely avoidable as well.

Highway 35 accidents have been a sore subject with me for most of my life. My grandfather, Herbie Hudson, died on Easter Sunday in 1973 from injuries he received when an 18-wheeler barreled though the intersection at Highway 80 and plowed into the truck he was riding in with Mr. Howard McDill, as they waited to make a left hand turn on the way to work. I’m not sure if there is a family connection with Mr. Howard and Madi’s family, but there very likely could be.

Mr. Howard also died about a month after that accident. It too was avoidable but the driver of the 18-wheeler was apparently determined to make the red light, and two families have suffered immensely from his poor decision.

Then in 1995 my family was grieving again when a dear friend of ours, my wife’s college roommate, Janet Moulds, died of complications from the injuries she received in a fiery accident, at the intersection of Highway 35 and I-20, which involved a loaded 18-wheel log truck. Janet’s son Gus, died at the scene and her daughter Meghan was severly injured but survived.

Highway 80 and Highway 35 are, regularly, accident scenes waiting to be investigated. Too many log trucks, and too many transport trucks, and honestly too many foolish drivers are trying to slip though a yellow/red light and get to their destinations five minutes quicker. I see it every single day as I cross Highway 80 where it intersects with Hillsboro Rd. and Main St. I learned long ago to look both ways at that spot — more than once — when the traffic light turns green. More times than I can count I’ve seen drivers plow right through.

And, every time I pull up in the left turn lane on Highway 80 to head south on Highway 35 I think of my grandfather — the man whose house I live in today — and wonder why he had to die at the young age of 62. Every time I pass over I-20 on Highway 80 I think of Janet and Gus and the last time they were playing in the swimming pool at our house. And now every time I turn into Walmart I’ll think of Madi, a beautiful little girl I never even met.

We’ve got to be more careful out there. Young children, and grandparents, and everyone in between, deserve to be able to go to Walmart, or to work, or to school every day and not have their families worried about whether or not they will return home again.

We have got to be more careful so that we have no more senseless tragedies during the holidays. No more senseless tragedies anytime!