Few things cut so deeply into a community as the loss of young life.
This week we were reminded of that fact again after two friends died when their truck went off an icy road and plunged into the Fraser River.
The grief of those touched by the tragedy was evident at an impromptu memorial service at Chilliwack secondary (the school both young men had attended) on Monday morning.
But even those more removed from the incident likely hugged their children a little tighter that evening when they heard the tragic news.
Sunday’s truck crash wasn’t the first time a young person’s potential was stolen just on the cusp of adulthood.
Just last year three young men were killed on Highway 1 west of Hope when their vehicle left the road.
They weren’t the first. Nor, as Sunday’s crash illustrated, the last, in an ongoing battle with young lives lost on the roadways.
In fact, according to the B.C. Automobile Association, roughly 54 young people will die each year in motor vehicle crashes. Thousands more sustain injuries that can affect them for the rest of their lives.
That car crashes are the leading cause of death among young people should come as little surprise to anyone who reflects honestly on their own adolescence. Most of us can recall times when we did dangerous things; when we put ourselves and our friends at risk.
We need to share those stories.
We need to remind anyone who will listen of the awesome power that a motor vehicle represents – the power to help, but also the power to cause harm.
Driving is an immense responsibility that even seasoned drivers take for granted. The vehicles are comfortable; the ride is smooth. However, the physics remain immutable.
Nothing will bring back the lives lost on that icy road Sunday morning.
But the tragedy offers an opportunity to have a conversation – with ourselves and the people we love – about the risks that exist every time we turn on the ignition.