SenselessWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | email@example.com
“It’s so senseless.” — Bernadine Marsrow, a neighbor of Wilbur and Margaret McCoy, to WNWO.
I have argued without success that death should be suspended during the holiday season. Intellectually, I recognize that a death is a loss any day of the year, but tragedies on holidays carry an emotional resonance that magnifies grief.
You did not have to know Wilbur and Margaret McCoy to grieve for the loss of their lives. The married couple, both 77, were driving on the Ohio Turnpike near Fremont on Thanksgiving evening. They’d known each other since high school but had been married just a few years. We can only speculate on their conversation as they drove. Were they discussing that day’s dinner? Their Thanksgiving time with family? Holiday plans with children and grandchildren?
We will never know what their final words were as they unknowingly drew their last few breaths. For behind them, approaching like a lightning strike, overtaking them like a ruthless deep-sea predator, was a black Infiniti M56 traveling like a missile at more than 125 miles per hour.
The Infiniti was not being driven by a human being. Human beings have a sense of caution for themselves and others. Human beings treasure life and do what they can to protect and prolong their own while not infringing on others’. It could not have been a human being, as I understand them, who allegedly drank and then drove that black car; it must have been a demon. The Infiniti’s driver has a human name, Andrew Gans. He has an age, 24, and even a hometown, Kent, Ohio. He reportedly has no criminal record and one speeding ticket.
But he is not a human being. Because to believe a human being could be as reckless, thoughtless and actively stupid as Gans apparently was is to abdicate faith in the basic moral and intellectual cores of human beings.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that Gans was driving between 125 and 150 mph and hit two other vehicles in a span of 17 miles. Gans rear-ended the Chrysler Town & Country minivan the McCoys were in.
It’s unlikely they had time to see Gans’ vehicle coming up behind them. One second they were possibly talking about whatever mundane details interested them as they drove; the next, they were trapped in a burning vehicle, instantly dropped into a hell of confusion, terror and unimaginable pain and suffering.
The McCoys died ugly, mean deaths with no peace, no prayers and no goodbyes.
Gans got out of his car, was treated for minor injuries and is expected to make a full recovery.
It was another 24-year-old, Michael Gagnon of Adrian, who in 2007 drunkenly drove the wrong way on I-280 a day before New Year’s Eve and killed five members of a Maryland family: Bethany Griffin, 36; Jordan Griffin, 10; Vadi Griffin, 8 weeks; Lacie Burkman, 7; and Haley Burkman, 10.
I’m not talking about a blown tire or an icy patch on the road knocking over dominoes of fate and ending in tragedy. I am talking about two 24-year-olds allegedly drinking, arrogantly climbing into their cars and entering history as murderers, ripping life from people guilty of no more than driving in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But I can’t accept that randomness, that lightning strike of lethal chance, as the act of human beings. How does the joy and spirituality of a holiday turn into rank stupidity for some people and violent death for others?
I am not asking why, as that’s God’s jurisdiction. I am more concerned with how. How does a human being with any sense of connection to life do something as evil as drink and drive, with full knowledge that to do so can randomly spread death as surely as if one carries typhoid into a crowd?
Whatever demon possessed Gans on Thanksgiving Day may have departed, leaving him alone to face the consequences. Is it easier to believe that than to believe he just sobered up?
There is no penalty created by human beings that suffices. Not until Gans is back in the hands of demons will true justice be delivered.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press
and Toledo Free Press Star and news director for 1370 WSPD. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: 10, 10; Vadi Griffin, 24-year-old, 36; Jordan Griffin, 7; and Haley Burkman, 8 weeks; Lacie Burkman, Andrew Gans, Chrysler Town & Country minivan, Fremont, Infiniti M56, Kent, Maryland family: Bethany Griffin, Michael Gagnon of Adrian, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Turnpike, Thanksgiving, Wilbur and Margaret McCoy, WNWO