Suspending my normal jocularity for the moment I find myself posting tonight on a topic very close to my heart, my sixteen year old daughter. I normally try to maintain some semblance of privacy about who we are and where we are from, but any amateur detective could figure it out with a minimum of effort. Given the gravity of what occurred today here, I’ll throw caution to the wind.
At around noon today I got a call from my wife. She said that our daughter had been a passenger in a car that was involved in an accident. I called her and she indeed sounded OK. She wasn’t hurt and she said no need for us to come out there. But being the pesky sort of parents we are, we headed out anyway. My wife from her direction, me from the office. As I topped the hill near the intersection where she was supposed to be I could already see flashing lights. Drawing closer, there were at least 3 firetrucks, a dozen police cars, and the entire street was blocked in both directions.
I parked a couple of streets away and headed toward the accident scene on foot, greeted after several yards by the sight shown below from the Dallas Morning News. Shortly thereafter I spotted my daughter, unharmed, sitting on the median curb.
I’ll spare you the details of tearful hugs when I arrived, the relief I felt, the relief I believe she felt when she saw that we had ignored her requests not to come. Her mother showed up shortly thereafter, more hugs, tears, and relief.
In the moment it was hard to fully grasp the magnitude of what had transpired. We knew she was riding in the rear seat with someone she didn’t know – a friend of a friend. She had been invited to lunch and found out when they got outside that this guy was picking them up. It’s hard to fault her logic, even in hindsight, although I would prefer she not ride with people she doesn’t know well. But in reality, they were only going a mile or so to have pizza for lunch and right back. What could happen right?
What happened was that two boys, the one driving my daughter and the one driving the other car were overcome with the testosterone or whatever it is that makes young men drive too fast. They were caught up in some “Too Fast Too Furious” fantasy where they were under the mistaken impression that somehow going faster than the other validated their worth. Now one dead. One in the hospital. One in serious trouble.
One paid the ultimate price. The other will most likely pay the price later – once charges are filed and I have little doubt that they will.
The part that pisses me off is the price my family almost had to pay.
So tonight I’m happy my daughter is OK. Sad that this young man, a high school senior, didn’t make it. Anxious about the few days and weeks to come. Thankful that no one else was seriously hurt. Angry as hell at this young man who took my daughter’s life in his hands and almost wasted it. But at the same time, sorry for what his parents and family will be going through. In a word – conflicted.
But I am not conflicted about this – and this is my message to you – love your children every moment of every day. Tell them, show them. Love them until it pisses them off then love them some more.
This is a lesson that I should already know. Should have learned almost 30 years ago when I lost my Mother. But today was a stark reminder to me that life is short. Sometimes too short. Just because I have passed more days on this earth than my Mom doesn’t mean that my children will receive the same gift. Just because I have passed more days on this earth than my Mom doesn’t mean that I will continue to be so lucky.
I thank God for my daughter’s friends who have been calling, texting, and coming by to show their support. I thank God for her coaches who have shown their concern and compassion. I thank God for the Plano ISD and Plano Senior High. I can’t even begin to describe in rational terms without blubbering how professional, compassionate, and helpful they were today. Most of all I thank God for every extra moment He gives me on this earth to spend loving the five gifts He has given me: My wife and my four children. He and I both know I don’t deserve them. I only pray that this loving compassionate God is with the family of the young man who was lost today as well.
Love hard. Live Well. Hug them till they squeak.
Update: 10/14/2006 8:49 AM CDT – Police have released the name of the PSHS senior killed in yesterday’s accident. His name was Mark Tu. His Myspace site is full of references to his car which an article in today’s DMN says he had named “Foxy Roxy.” Also he had included the notation “Racing = My life” along with a slideshow showing the work he had done on his car. Most chillingly, Mark in his “Tell me about yourself – the survey” answered the question “How do you want to die?” with “in a car crsh (sic).” You can view his Myspace here.
Update: 10/18/2006 2:13 pm CDT – The following notice was sent to subscribers of the PSHS eNews mailing list regarding the memorial service for the student killed in last Friday’s accident:
“The Family of Mark Tu encourages PSHS staff and students to attend a
Memorial Service on Saturday October 28th at 3 p.m. at the Dallas Chinese
Fellowship Church at 2640 Glencliff Drive, Plano 75075. Any other services that may be planned are limited to family and invited
Thank you in advance for respecting the family’s wishes.”
Plano student dies in car wreck
05:39 PM CDT on Friday, October 13, 2006
PLANO — A Plano Senior High School senior was killed and another student was injured Friday in a car accident just after they left campus for lunch, said police and other students who saw the accident.
A number of classmates witnessed the accident.
The two male students were headed for CiCi’s Pizza for lunch just before noon when the driver lost control of a red 1995 Eclipse and wrapped the car around a utility pole along West Park Boulevard. MILTON HINNANT / DMN
Plano police spokesman Rick McDonald said investigators believe the Eclipse and a black Ford Mustang were driving at a high rate of speed when the vehicles collided, sending the Eclipse into the pole.
Several Plano Senior High students who saw the accident said the driver of the Eclipse did not signal before it moved into the right lane just before the accident.
One of the victims was pronounced dead at the scene, and the other was transported to Medical Center of Plano in unknown condition, Mr. McDonald said. The names of the individuals involved are being withheld due to notification of family members.
The impact caused the utility pole to splinter at its base.
About 40 to 50 students came by the accident scene during their lunch break, hugging each other and talking about the accident, which many had witnessed.
Police were not officially releasing the name of the victim who died, but students near the accident scene said they knew the victim’s name.
Witnesses Nathan Cory, 17, and Bryan Barrett, 18, who are also students at Plano Senior High, said they were driving behind the car before the accident. They tried to help afterward.
“We ran up to the car,” Nathan said. “I don’t think they were wearing seatbelts.”
The students said they heard the passenger screaming.
“We really couldn’t do anything,” Bryan said.
Plano Senior High is an open campus, meaning students can leave during lunch break.
Stewart Allen and Nick Perkins, both 16 and juniors at the school, said they also tried to help after they passed the accident on their way to CiCi’s.
“It was pretty gruesome,” said Stewart. “The loss is tragic. It could have been us.”
Plano ISD spokeswoman Nancy Long said news of the accident was spreading through the school.
“When students began returning from lunch and learning about the tragic accident, the teachers allowed them to go visit the counselors if they needed to,” said Plano schools spokeswoman Nancy Long.
She said some students chose to leave school when they heard, and their parents were notified.
“We send our sympathy to the families of these students,” Ms. Long said.
A power outage affected the neighborhood within a mile radius of the accident.