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Two publishers, two daughters, one grief

Posted: September 16, 2012 - 12:00am

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/
barrypaschal.)

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Comments (8)

Riverman1

Deepest Sympathy

There is nothing worse than a family losing a child they have raised. Nothing. The family has my deepest sympathy.

soapy_725

We are so often reminded these days of

"learning opportunities". Learning opportunities has replaced what used to be called mistakes, lapses in judgement and even crime.

So to honor Ms. White, lets stop the "insanity of allowing those who choose to drive while under the influence of alcohol". The privilege to drive a motor vehicle can be revoked. Driver's licenses and auto tags can be confiscated. If citizens were daily observed walking the roads of CC with handguns or automatic rifles menacing innocents, something would happen.
Innocent life has to be worth more that "drinking one's self to happiness". This ain't happiness.

Mr. Lucky's freedom to be happy stopped at the point of Ms. Smith's freedom to be alive. Not one millimeter closer.

God help us to see the price we are paying for fleeting pleasure.

Our sincere thoughts and prayer go out to the Smith family. May the Lord comfort you, sustain and strengthen you by His Holy Spirit in this hour.

soapy_725

As a learning experience, lets look

at the CC ordinances with regard to public use of alcohol. Lets look at the absence of an ordinance that allows individuals to congregate on the side of public roadways/sidewalks and consume copious amounts of alcohol. These same individuals would be arrested if they were on the property say, of a Circle K, which sells alcohol. Without a brown bag of course (the brown bag filters out the negative affects of alcohol).

Consumption of alcohol within a private residence, club or private business is not at issue. When that alcohol enters a "deadly weapon", that is an issue.

We have certainly curtailed the "deadly cigarette smoke" exposure. Lets curtail deadly "drunk exposure". We certainly have more to fear from a drunk than a smoker.

Zero tolerance is a matter of life and death.

myparrot

A change

We should also put some responsibility on the place serving drinks. I understand they can go to another bar, but you can tell when they have had enough. Stop, ask if they are driving or riding before giving them another. I know you need to earn money, is it worth another life. Many times people think they are fine but after even one let a sober person drive or call someone. I hurt for these families nothing is worse than losing a child. NOTHING!

thegordongrouppr

I'm On The Same Page

Barry--- well said and very, very classy. May they rest in peace and be a shining light for others to learn from, so their deaths are not in vain.

Neil Gordon
Publisher and Dad of 18 year old and Step-Dad of 19 year old

Barry Paschal

Thanks, Neil

Thanks, Neil. It really does hit home, doesn't it?

Scharley

Am so sorry

I want to say am so sorry , I lost a 19 year old daughter in 2004 and it was the worst day in my whole life, to this day I still feel like I never was able to say goodbye cause of what happen. Everyone that reads this please pray for these family's . There life will never be the same. Praying .....

soapy_725

Not even an accident report at the sheriffs website

Search for last week accidents within 1 mile of 607 Ronald Reagan Dr (post office)and 4385 Washington Rd (Regions Bank) revealed "no accident reports". Sealed or other wise?
Maybe the site is not working?

Another thought that would have major impact on the tragedy. Was he driving his Georgia Power pickup truck with "logos" affixed. This vehicle is always at his house? Liability or deny ability for GA Power?

This is going to be a major issue in CC.

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