A parent's worst nightmare

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It's a parent's worst nightmare: that phone call in the wee hours to inform you that your child has been involved in an accident.

Some Carroll County parents got that phone call Friday morning, just hours after their sons had graduated from Green Forest High School. Two of the four young men riding in a pickup truck were critically injured in a rollover accident at 4:40 a.m. The others suffered minor injuries.

My heart goes out to these young men and their families. As a parent, it's not difficult to relate to the anguish that these families must be feeling. My own son graduated from high school Friday night. After the ceremony, we had a late dinner together. As my son and his girlfriend got in his truck to leave the restaurant, I told him, "be careful," just as I had an hour before when we left the gym where graduation was held.

"You're such a dad," my date said as we got in our car.

Yes, I am.

I wonder how many of those Green Forest parents said the same thing to their sons in the moments after graduation. It seems like so little, but the reality is that once your children reach a certain age your ability as a parent to protect them is diminished. You can't strap them in a car seat and drive them home, or even hop in the passenger's seat to monitor their driving. So you're left with "be careful."

My son made it through graduation night unscathed, thankfully. But no one is bulletproof. Just a week before, he hit a deer late at night on a dark country road. He wasn't hurt, but he could have been.

Sometimes -- a lot of times -- teenagers believe they are invincible. They think they are young and strong and energetic and nothing can stop them or hurt them. In many ways, that's a wonderful attitude to have, but it can also get those young people in trouble.

Sometimes, young people make mistakes. Sometimes, those mistakes have terrible, even deadly, consequences. It's a tragedy that plays out all too often.

As a parent, I can't help but think about those things sometimes. And I can't help but feel a little bit helpless when I tap on the hood of my son's truck and tell him to "be careful."

For the record, this column isn't intended to speculate about what caused Friday morning's accident. It isn't to point fingers or assign blame. It's simply to offer our sympathies to these young men and their families -- as well as best wishes for a complete recovery.

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Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com.

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