August 5, 2009

Why They Taught Us That In School

75. 8. 2. 81. 49. 74. 7. 5. 8. 2. 36. .19.

These are the numbers that describe the indescribable.

Seventy-five: how many years it's been in Westchester County since something this horrible occured. Eight: the number of people killed. Eighty-one, forty-nine, seventy-four, seven, five, eight, two, thirty-six: the ages of the people killed. And, finally, .19: the estimated blood alcohol level of the driver...

Diane Schuler was that thirty-six-year-old driver; until a few days ago, she had the pity if not sympathy of many who heard about her case. It seemed that she had suffered from some kind of unavoidable disorientation, possibly brought on by an underlying medical condition, and driven her minivan- with her daughter and son and three nieces in it- the wrong way on a busy road, killing everyone but the one boy in the minivan and also ending the lives of the three men in the Trailblazer driving in the other direction.

The case was viewed as a horrible tragedy, and so it remains. But now another word is being used to describe the case: homicide.

Ms. Schuler cannot have purposefully set out to kill herself and seven others, can she? But equally so she must have known the dangers of consuming so much alcohol (and apparently marijuana as well) and driving, especially with five young children in the vehicle.

And so the question we are left with is: Why? Why would Ms. Schuler put her children and nieces in such danger- a danger that so recently and awfully transformed into a fatal reality?
As of yet, the question remains unanswered. All we can do is hope that Ms. Schuler's five-year-old son recovers fully and that the families of those killed can find an answer.

For the moment, there's one important lesson to take from this disaster. It's an age-old adage but, considering recent events, needs repeating.

Don't drink and drive.

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