Alaska editorial: What of their deaths?

Posted: Tuesday, June 07, 2005

This editorial appeared in the May 31 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

A 13-year-old boy, riding his bike in the Goldstream Valley, is plowed under by a vehicle reportedly driven by an alcohol-impaired man. Less than a week later, on the very day when friends and neighbors were mourning the boy's death, an 18-year-old University of Alaska Fairbanks student dies in a vehicle accident in which alcohol was present in the other driver.

If these two needless, tragic deaths don't revolt residents and lead to a greater effort to curb drunken driving, it's difficult to believe anything will.

Two young lives snuffed out. One of them just heading into high school years, the other just entering a promising college career.

Gone.

Somebody, please, somebody, explain this.

Alaska is making headway in reducing the percentage of alcohol-related traffic fatalities. The percentage has fallen to 33 percent of total accidents from 52 percent three years ago, a significant decline that the Alaska State Troopers attribute to increased enforcement. But no one should accept that 33 percent is a good rate.

Fairbanks must make a commitment to fight drunken driving, not just on the holidays but year-round. The commitment must begin with individuals but surely can expand to become a high-profile local campaign.

Something must come from the deaths of young Saul Stutz and Andrew Coker.



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