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Give a warning (01/12/2014)
By Frances Edstrom

At the top of Hwy 43, just beyond where it meets I-90 and goes shooting off toward the west for a while, a driver can continue going straight. The road going straight ahead, however, ends abruptly at a T intersection. To signal to drivers who have been going 55 miles an hour that they had better slow down, there is a large sign with lighted arrows on it that demands attention and directs drivers either right or left, not straight, which is into a farmer’s field.

It might be time to think about such a sign at the corner where Huff Street makes a sharp left turn and becomes Riverview Drive. Going straight at that intersection ends in a watery death, not merely a farmer’s field.

Before responding, “we can’t afford that,” think about the expense of the search for the four unfortunate victims of this latest crash into the frozen Mississippi River.

Dollars spent pale in comparison with the cost of lives lost — parents losing children, children losing parents. This is what we implicitly turn our backs on if we don’t alert drivers to the danger of this curve. We should have responded after the first tragedy at this corner, which killed five young people on the threshold of their adult lives.

Instead, we took the opportunity to throw aspersions on the five young victims of that horrible accident, and are reportedly treating the newest victims in exactly the same way in online comments.

Should we see death as suitable retribution for drinking too much, or letting our attention stray from the road, or not seeing very well on a dark night when lights reflect off the road? People make mistakes. All people make mistakes. Society’s job is to help people live through those mistakes.

Women marry violent men, and social services, with tax support from us all, work to protect those women and their children from harm. Men working at great heights take false steps. We pass laws requiring safety harnesses. People get into financial trouble. We allow them to declare bankruptcy, and their creditors must forgive their debts. People drive too fast and bump into things. We demand airbags in vehicles.

Rather than engaging in vitriolic attacks on victims’ actions, no matter how misguided they may have been, shouldn’t we instead find ways to help people live even though they make mistakes? Wouldn’t we rather make a mistake ourselves and be able to live through it and say, “Whew! That was close!”

Back when school children learned Latin, they learned the phrase “De mortuis nil nisi bonum,” which translates to “Of the dead (say) nothing but good.” If only we were as civil as the ancient Romans and had respect for the dead and their families.

A large flashing signal at the intersection of Huff Street and Riverview Drive is called for.  


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