My long-departed father told me one time when I was a rebellious teenager that “Nothing good happens after midnight – so don’t be out all hours of the night.”
I don’t think he was the original purveyor of that line, but it stuck with me. I’ve also passed it on to my kids and maybe they will pass it on to theirs, or at least tell their friends and they can chuckle at me – just like I did at my father.
Maybe my dad got that feeling after my older sister, when she was just a teenager, was on her way home from a date with her boyfriend and they were hit by a drunk driver. It happened after midnight. She lived, but her life was forever changed. To this day, I hate it when my phone rings after midnight when I know someone in my family is “out there on the streets.”
My mom and dad are both deceased, but they are probably smiling at that last sentence knowing I remember them saying, “I hope you have children of your own some day.”
Last Saturday night (or early Sunday morning) around 2:00 a.m. (after midnight) a drunk driver plowed through a local bar in Great Falls (Montana) killing one and injuring four others. My prayers go out to the families and friends of those involved.
Sadly a few families received that call “after midnight” that will forever change their lives. My heart breaks for them – we see this happen all too often here in Montana.
In regards to the information coming out after the tragedy, it was, to say the least, interesting to watch and gather. Most of it left people hanging waiting for more. It seems every post, comment and/or link left people with more questions – even more today. Rumors were flying. People got angry at the accused and at each other.
There are several sources that report the news in Great Falls, always fighting to be first with the breaking news, but it took them quite some time to obtain credible information from the local authorities. That’s what happens in small communities where nobody wants to make waves or push people in authority to give all the information they legally can. It’s appropriate not to report names until the family has been notified, but the essentials of the event can and should be fought for and then disclosed to the public.
It’s tough on local reporters (many who are at their first or second rodeo) who try to walk that fine line of reporting on tragic events, but who also want to move on up the food chain to better things (a larger market) and a bigger paycheck. Some reporters just want to head to retirement in peace.
Meanwhile, during the first 12 hours of so after the tragedy, rumors were flying in the comment section of Facebook where some local media post and link stories. Yes news stories are posted on Facebook – that’s where people get their news who don’t know how to use Twitter (that’s a joke, folks).
I read “three dead, two injured” and “one dead, three injured” several times from people in the comment section. It was somewhat out of control. There are also the accusers saying things and defenders saying things and we also have the people saying “calm down” and “let the facts come out” and “stop spreading rumors.” Someone even brought the Tea Party into the mix in one discussion section.
But the most ironic thing to me was the four or so people who clicked “Like” on Facebook about the news that someone plowed into a bar and killed someone. Why “Like” that?
Montana does have a problem with people driving drunk and this heartbreaking event is just another painful chapter. It needs to end now.
To read more columns on this website about drunk driving, go to the right side of the screen, scroll down to “Categories” and then click on “Drunk Driving.”