It was not the kind of high school graduation story that parents want to read about.
On the front page of Saturday's Washington Post was the story of four bright, beautiful young girls who died in a horrific accident hours after two of them had graduated from West Potomac High School in Fairfax, County, Virginia. Driving on the Capital Beltway, their car veered into the path of a tractor-trailer rig. Their white Volkswagen Cabriolet convertible was demolished. Alcohol was found in the car, but police have not yet revealed whether it had anything to do with the crash. The driver of the tractor-trailer, whom police say was not at fault, is devastated, as are the families of those four bright, beautiful girls, their classmates, and their friends.
This tragic story sent a chill down my spine because my own 18-year-old-son, Travis, just graduated from a high school not far from the one the dead girls attended--and he, too, was in a car wreck shortly after graduation. Driving in pouring rain to a graduation party, he rounded a curve, lost control of the car, almost hit another car head on, careened off the road, narrowly missed hitting a telephone pole, bounced through a thicket of bushes and ended up at the bottom of a ravine. The driver he almost hit, seeing him swerve off the road and disappear, called 911. The responding fire truck, police cars and EMT vehicles shot past our house, but we naturally had no idea they had anything to do with our son.
Miraculously, Travis was not injured (other than biting down hard on his tongue), and the driver he almost hit told police that Travis had not been speeding. Nor had he been drinking anything stronger than cranberry juice. It was a combination of wet roads and not-great tires and a bad curve. In fact, the police saw so many other drivers almost do exactly what Travis did that they posted a police car at the beginning of the curve to slow people down.
The accident did almost $6,000 damage to our car. But unlike the four girls in the white convertible, our son survived graduation weekend. We, his parents, are suffering merely the inconvenience of having to drive a rental car for a few weeks.
But I can’t get those four beautiful young girls out of my mind. Were they drinking? Or did the accident happen because they hadn't had enough experience driving on the Beltway? Perhaps the driver was not paying enough attention to what she was doing. Or was it a combination of these factors?
The Post seems to favor the alcohol argument. "Students at West Potomac High School in Fairfax County have heard, repeatedly, about the dangers of alcohol," the reporters began their story.