Don’t waste your time trying to figure out lifeWritten by Matt Sussman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a daunting task for any sportswriter April 9 to not find oneself deep in thought about the tragic death of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart.
The news came across everyone’s desk in the morning, and as fact after depressing fact came to light, those in the press box realized the stuff they wrote about later that day actually mattered.
Two of Adenhart’s friends, Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson, died almost instantly at the scene of the accident. Adenhart died at the hospital a few hours later. Another passenger, Jon Wilhite, survived and continues to improve.
The driver who hit the car was 22-year-old Andrew Gallo. He was previously convicted of driving drunk, resulting in a suspended license. And it was believed that he was also under the influence at that time he killed those three young people.
A story like this always reminds me of Michael Gagnon. I wish it didn’t.
Gagnon, if you remember, is serving a 43-year sentence for five counts of vehicular homicide. On December 31, 2007, the Adrian, Mich., native drove drunk and turned the wrong way on Interstate 280, colliding head-on with a family of seven.
Here’s what always gets me about this story. Gagnon had a designated driver that night — his pregnant sister. They had three rooms reserved at a nearby hotel. But for some reason, Gagnon just left. He even went to a Taco Bell drive-thru, where one of the employees suspected he was drunk and called 911, but stall tactics failed and Gagnon drove onto I-280.
That was the truly eye-opening part. He had a network of friends, family and good Samaritans in place to try to prevent this from occurring. But it happened regardless.
Hopefully, we can find out what happened to Gallo that night. Who was he with? Does he have friends and family who still support him? Was anyone able to approach him with his alcohol problem or did his loved ones give up on him?
The focus was on Adenhart because the gripping part of this story was that he was the Angels most promising pitcher. He was out with his friends celebrating the game he just pitched, throwing six shutout innings.
But focusing on Gallo’s situation seems to be more practical. Figuring out how to prevent and punish such offenders will be the key to stopping these random and senseless deaths.
I did think of one other recent situation that reminded me of Adenhart: the death of Mario Reyes. Most people don’t know whom this gentleman was, unless they know why Browns receiver Donte Stallworth is in big trouble. Well, “trouble” by athletes’ standards, is probably downplaying the situation.
Stallworth struck and killed Reyes in his car last month in Miami, and reports indicated he had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit. He was charged with DUI manslaughter, which is an almost identical crime to the one to which Gagnon pleaded no contest. It’s probably what Gallo will be facing, too.
These are just three examples in which nine people died. There are thousands more. There will probably be another similar fatality tomorrow. But as Los Angeles Dodgers legendary broadcaster Vin Scully said of the Adenhart tragedy, before jumping back to the play-by-play, “There is one thing I’ve learned in all my years — and I haven’t learned much — but the one thing I’ve learned: Don’t even waste your time trying to figure out life.”