My lifelong best friend was killed in a car accident when we were both 20.
Ten years later, my mother -- a pedestrian standing only feet from my childhood home -- was struck and killed by a car.
Both of these life-changing losses happened at this time of year -- the first in mid-May, the latter on June 1. The trees were green, the days were sunny, and it made absolutely no sense to be going to the funerals of the people who meant the most to me.
My friend had been in a car with five other Niagara University students (she wasn't at the wheel), coming back from a weekend night out at the lake in Angola. Their car colliided with a tractor-trailer at an intersection in Evans; all six girls died.
Drunk driving may have been involved in both incidents; a lack of caution certainly was. Nor can alcohol be dismissed as a factor in ongoing hit-and-run manslaughter trial of Dr. James G. Corasanti or in the rash of tragic accidents over the past few days in the Buffalo area.
So maybe it's time to prove Monica Ferrar wrong. She is the director of the local Drinking Driver Program who was quoted today in News reporter Gene Warner's story on the recent accidents:
"Nobody learns from other people's mistakes," Ferrar told Warner. "They don't think it can happen to them." (Along the same lines, the DUI Foundation website offers what it calls a sobering fact: "On average, a first time drunk driving offender has driven drunk 87 times before being arrested.")
But clearly, it does happen. And tragedy may follow.
My friend Lauri Githens observed a few days ago that the photograph on the News website of Corasanti's car following the collision with 18-year-old Alix Rice -- was "the most violent image you've run since Merge," an allusion to a controversial photo taken just after the 2010 shooting of a Buffalo restaurant worker.
The Corasanti trial is happening for a reason; we don't know exactly what happened that night or the role that alcohol may have played.
But the image of that mangled BMW is haunting. It ought to be.
The trial continues this week and everyone will keep talking about it. That's inevitable. But as we do, it would be useful to take something from our fascination other than gossip fodder.
In paying such close attention, we could, finally, learn something.
Here is Brian Meyer's interview with court reporter Patrick Lakamp, summarizing last week's testimony in the Corasanti trial and looking towards the weeks ahead.