I will forever remember this Thanksgiving, but not for the warm and fuzzy reasons you may think. Instead of the traditional gathering of family and friends, instead of the aromas of golden brown turkey, toasted marshmallow sweet potato casserole, and luscious pumpkin pie, I'll be haunted by the memory of the deaths of David, Kaylie, and their two year old daughter, Annika. Every time I pass by the intersection of routes 30 and 48, I'll see the burned out shell of a car and hear the deafening silence surrounding it. I'll imagine the gruesome sight of David's body lying on the pavement, bruised and bloodied, and I'll gasp in horror when, like the firefighters and policemen, I realize that there are the bodies of Kaylie and Annika inside the vehicle's remains, charred beyond recognition.
And when I remember the events leading up to this senseless tragedy, once again my anger will rise up.
A police officer stops a car for an illegal turn. The driver, a 22 year old man, and his girlfriend appear nervous. After checking the license number and discovering that two arrest warrants are in effect for Demetrius Coleman, the officer calls for backup. However before he can approach the wanted man, Coleman steps on the gas and screeches out of the parking lot heading east on route 30 at the speed of over 100 mph. Doing what they are trained to do, serve and protect, policemen from both East McKeesport and North Versailles follow in pursuit. After weaving in and out of traffic, at times driving in the on-coming lanes, Demetrius Coleman crashes into Kaylie's car, which instantaneously bursting into flames, snuffing out the lives of an innocent family on theBir way to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones.
And when I remember that some people entertain the notion that this horrific tragedy could have been avoided it only the police officers would not have chased these two, my anger only escalates.
Why does it appear that nowadays law enforcement is always at fault? These courageous men and women take their responsibilities very seriously. They have taken an oath to protect and serve. They risk their own lives so that others can escape injury and death. They are to be respected for their commitment, not vilified for their actions. Don't accuse those who perform their duties for doing so, but rather place the blame where it rightly belongs.
Just because you're an addict, whether your drug of choice be heroin or alcohol, and just because addiction is viewed as an illness, you are not absolved from responsibility for your actions. You don't get a free pass to do as you please, break the law, injure, maim, and kill others, and not be held accountable because you were under the influence. People with debilitating diseases like those suffering from incurable cancers, kidney failure, or dementia must pay for what they do, and if illegal, are subject to the same penalties that you and I are, and must accept the consequences of their misdeeds.
Demetrius Coleman and his girlfriend, who had heroin in her possession, are the ones who caused the deaths of these three beautiful people, and Demetrius Coleman and his girlfriend alone are responsible not only for their demise, but the pain and suffering of the family and friends left behind to grieve for many, many Thanksgivings to come.
If any finger pointing is needed to identify those who are to blame, let's make sure we're pointing in the right direction, at Demetrius Coleman and his girlfriend, who are totally responsible for what happened at the intersection of routes 30 and 48 on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, 2016!