My precious baby daughter will turn 19 next Thursday, God willing.
Somebody else’s 19-year-old daughter won’t make it to 20. And a son won’t make it to 36. All because of what the police believe were stupid, selfish drunk drivers.
Two days. Two crashes. Just a few miles apart in Columbia County, but right next to each other in the category of irresponsibility.
Monday’s crash was a combination of an allegedly inebriated driver and an unbuckled passenger, who was killed when the vehicle rolled and he was thrown out. That rarely ends well, and in this case it ended the life of 35-year-old Alejandro Reyes-Romero of Evans.
Wednesday’s crash occurred in Evans when the vehicle of 19-year-old Jordan White of Martinez, who was minding her own business, following the law, was hit by a man the cops say had been drinking before he ran his pickup through a red light and slammed into her driver’s side door.
Every kid is someone’s child. But in this case this fatality hits close to home because Jordan White is the daughter of Joe White, publisher of The Metro Spirit.
His weekly paper is a competitor in the newspaper business, so the two of us have little more than a passing acquaintance. But White also is a Columbia County resident and a publisher and a daughter’s father, just like me. Except that he’s grieving for the loss of his 19-year-old daughter, while I’m planning to celebrate my daughter’s 19th birthday.
So far this year, 225 people have been arrested in Columbia County for driving under the influence, according to Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris. That’s on track to match the 309 DUI arrests in Columbia County last year.
Two traffic deaths, in the same week, both with alcohol suspected as a cause, are a stark reminder of why law enforcement officers deserve our full support in stopping and arresting drunk drivers. Not every drunk behind the wheel wrecks or hurts someone else. But inebriated drivers sure make that more likely to happen, quite often with tragic consequences.
Back in June, when 17-year-old Corey Allan Morin died after being struck by a vehicle on Hereford Farm Road, I urged the sheriff’s office to crack down on speeders. There was no reason to believe the man who hit Morin was speeding, and he had not been drinking, but there certainly is no harm in helping prevent all motorists from driving too fast.
And even though it won’t bring Morin back, his father stepped up to plead with county commissioners to lower the speed limit on Hereford Farm Road to a consistent 45 mph. They did; the new signs are now up, and the sheriff’s office is enforcing it. Someone else’s child might be spared as a result of that effort.
Likewise, no amount of grief will bring Jordan White or Alejandro Reyes-Romero back now. But cracking down on drunk drivers might help save another Jordan White or Alejandro Reyes-Romero.
Or an Annie Paschal.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/