“Why?” is just one question following tragic crash

Obviously, Matthew Tesch’s mother blames herself at least in part for his death. Today’s Register article quotes her clearly questioning why her two sons – one dead and one severely injured in a Monday morning traffic accident on the Southeast side – kept the company they kept, and made the choices they made early Monday: to stay up all night drinking, and to get into a car with someone whom they had just met who was extremely drunk.

She said it herself: “Sometimes we get so busy working and working and paying bills off that we forget that we have a family and kids at home.”

She’s right – we do.

In the most immediate sense, of course, her son’s death was not her fault. She was not drunkenly driving the car that killed him. In the broader sense, though, Matthew’s death (and the death of 17-year-old Stephanie Gray, whom the Register describes as a “former Hoover High School student”) illustrates what can happen when kids are permitted to make their own judgment calls about who they hang out with, when (or whether) they come home, what substances they consume. When parents, so busy providing for the family, fail to take an active role in the lives their kids are leading, the result can be horrific and tragic.

The question for the families of these kids may indeed be Why. It’s likely they’ll hear the answer, over and over, in their nightmares for years to come. And for that, I am profoundly sorry and sad.

But the question for the rest of us is Who? Who among us will learn the lesson, become involved, and make meddling in our kids affairs a higher priority?

Editor’s note: This post about a local fatality originally appeared in September, 2007. The news story referenced in the Des Moines Register is no longer available.

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