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What we've learned from Corasanti

We are a community in grief.

Few recent courtroom proceedings have gripped the region's psyche in the same way as the trial of James Corasanti.

Not Eva Cummings. Not Mo Hassan. Not even City Grill.

Perhaps it was because the judicial outcome -- unlike in those cases -- is so shocking. Perhaps it was because there is incredible sadness for a young life gone. Perhaps it was the spectacle of seeing such a prominent fall from grace.

Or perhaps, deep down, you wondered what you would have done.

Not whether you would have stopped. Not whether you would have refused a blood test. Not whether you would have -- or could have -- taken advantage of every opportunity the justice system allowed.

Those choices -- no matter how repugnant -- came too late to save Alix Rice's life.

It was the decisions made in the hours and minutes before she was struck that could have changed the course of that night.

The decision to drink. The decision to drive. The decision to text.

Changing any one of those might have saved Rice.

As much as we wish it could be, we cannot change the course of what happened. We cannot go back and tell Corasanti not to knock back the rum and Diet Pepsi. We cannot take away his keys before he left the club.

So, instead, we are left with an undercurrent of emotions that ripped through the community, lit up talk radio and dominated coffee shop chatter last week. There was anger and confusion and disbelief. There was hatred and spite and mob mentalities.

But there were other emotions on display that might leave us with lessons from this terrible tragedy.

Reprieve: I'm not talking about Corasanti here. Let's face it; some of you have done what he did. You drank and went out on the road. Thank heavens you were lucky not to so selfishly take away a life.

I'm not out on a limb to say this. Just look at what happened in Western New York while the trial went on -- four people were injured in hit-and-runs, and a 14-year-old boy was killed by a drunken driver who drove away. Hundreds in Erie County are charged each month with driving while intoxicated, and those are just the ones caught.

Let this tragedy be a stark reminder. You are gambling with somebody's life if you drink and drive.

Superiority: The judgment of the jury has approached the realm of scary. The insults hurled were unwarranted. Few heard everything the jury heard. Few sat through the testimony of 42 witnesses. Few heard the judge describe the parameters by which a decision had to be made.

You may think you know what verdict you would have chosen, but unless you were one of the 12 people in that deliberating room, you do not really know.

The justice system may be flawed. It might not always give us the outcome that we want, but it's not the jurors in this case who are to blame. There was only one man driving that BMW on Heim Road that night.

Love: If there was one thing that was clear last week, it was the fact that Rice was loved by family and friends. She was a young woman who loved longboarding and art, who had a "beaming smile" for everyone, who had everything ahead.

Corasanti will go on with his life, but the pain for those who lose a loved one never goes away.

There is one emotion that has been absent for this community in the verdict's aftermath: forgiveness. You hear none of it in the anger of those who talk about the case. You won't catch any whiff of it in the comments online.

Forgiveness might come some day. First, though, the man at the center of this tragedy will have to seek it.