Less than one day has passed after this most recent Tracy teen reckless driving accident, and already the judgements are flying. (Check out the story and the comments thread here.)
It certainly seems like this is another example of an invincible teenager testing the limits and not knowing where to stop while embarking on a night of thrills. That the initial report indicates alcohol seems to be involved makes it even worse.
That many community members exhibit a lack of sympathy shouldn't be surprising. Mike Ucci died in January, and Bret Clifton lost his legs, in an accident (story here, my column here). There was a huge community campaign to try to get teen drivers to drive more responsibly after that accident. It seems the effort hasn't quite taken hold.
There was another crash involving a young driver who obviously didn't think about the potential consequences of his actions.
Now, a third, all in the span of eight months.
In the eyes of adults, that makes the results of the most recent crash almost deserved. "Well, didn't you see the previous results? What did you expect to happen?" Of course, many teenagers, young adults (hell, even many older adults) don't think like that. It's a case of "it will never happen to me" syndrome, because I am smarter/quicker/a better war planner/fill in the blank than the previous guy -- you can pretty much apply it to anything.
Ultimately, the actions of the driver and passengers in the aftermath of the accident are what should determine how we view this. Who knows -- they, like others before them, could turn this into a learning experience and become champions of safe driving.
Mike Ucci's father, Ken, and Bret made it their mission to get other teen drivers to not repeat Bret's mistake and reckless behavior. That's why I wrote this column in support of their efforts, because they took a tragedy and tried to find something positive in it.
Hopefully, that comes out of this accident, too. Although, judging by the initial judgements, that seems unlikely.