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” Payette County officials talk about leveling hill where fatal crash occurred ”

This headline turned my head. I thought it was one of those infamous story title flubs. But the headline speaks the truth!

It was a tragic event that occurred in a small farming community west of Boise. Two 15-year olds were killed last weekend when the pickup one of them was driving flew off the road and slammed into a tree. Let me say right up front that my heart grieves for the parents and families of these two boys. There is nothing more devastating than having to bury your child.

But, I am appalled to think that anyone would even consider defacing the landscape as a logical outcome to faulty teenaged decisions. As reported in the local paper, the vehicle crested a hill at an, as yet, undetermined speed.  When the  air-borne pickup touched down on the other side of the hill, the young driver lost control and that was pretty much the end of the story for these two young friends. Friends to death. Sad. Tragic. My heart hearts.

But people, this boy was driving with a learner’s permit which strictly forbade him to have passengers other than adults or family members. There is a reason for this restriction. He broke the law.

The road the boys were on is a rural road without curbs, gutters, or even lane markings. There is an intersection nearby with no stop sign. I was taught to handle such roads with caution: be prepared to stop, keep your eyes open and your speed down. But the hill on this road has lured joy-seeking kids for years. Catching air in the family car is a teenage art, like huffing, like the choking game. And, like those other games, it is a deadly art. One mistake and you’re toast.

Kids have been taking risks for years. Kids will always be prone to taking risks. When I was a teenager, it was drunk driving and LSD. We cannot eliminate danger from kids’ lives. What we can do, however, is talk to our kids. Teach our kids, keep an eye on our kids. We can know when our kids are driving and with whom and where they are going.

To presume that we can alter the landscape to protect kids from their own need for thrills is lunacy. The kids will find another, equally dangerous thrill to pursue. I say, we need to use the senseless death of this two boys—pillars of their community—as a lesson to all of their classmates and those classmates behind them. “This is your life! Don’t waste it on cheap thrills!”

How about placing a memorial in the school parking lot as a reminder? It could be anything: photos of the boys or how about a sculpture? Haul the remains of that Ford F-250 to the exit of the school parking lot, anchor it to a pedestal and plant flowers around the base. Let it haunt the friends of those boys, and the kids of the friends of those boys, and the next generation, and the next . . .