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The Accident, Take 2

September 01, 1996

J.R. Moehringer wrote a powerful story ("The Accident," July 28). While I was reading the beginning (and crying), I thought: This story should be required reading for every 6th grader in the country. If all children knew what kind of pain a think like this could cause, maybe they'd stop and think.

At the end of the story, I changed my mind. James Patterson said that for 17 years and 10 months, he had studied diligently, worked hard and obeyed is parents. Then one little slip, one fleeting lapse in judgment . . . . Excuse me, one little slip? Where was his judgment when he started drinking and smoking? I thought such things were illegal for juveniles. Where was his judgment when he hung around kids who smoked pot?

Mary M. Lewis



In 1994, 22,000 traffic deaths, 90% of the nation's drunk-driving toll, ere caused by drinkers over the age of 21. Yet 90% of the media's features on drinking focuses on teenagers.

Society and the media often look the other way when carnage caused by adult drunk driving is involved. Maybe that's why adolescents suffer the same kinds of alcohol-related tragedies all too common among he grownup culture that raises them.

Michael A. Males


* As the mother of sons (now adult men), I sympathize with the families of all the boys involved. You can't watch over your children every minute. You have to have faith in them, hoping they do what's right.

Growing up isn't easy. Perhaps James Patterson learned a valuable lesson that he'll be able to pass on to others. Everything we do in life affects others, some to the good, some to a tragic end.

Shirlee M. Shumway

San Juan Capistrano


Ok, will everyone who has ever driven while drinking, please stand? Now, everyone who has ever driven after drinking, please stand. And now, everyone who has ever driven in the morning after drinking until 1 a.m., on your feet, please. Finally, all ho have ever lost control of their cars, whether or not they'd been drinking, please stand.

Anyone left sitting may choose to punish James Patterson further for the deaths of his four friends. There, but for the grace of God, go many of us.

Leslie Layman

Joshua Tree


Moehringer's article has become required reading for my sons and their friends, and all my students, present and future, will be instructed to read it as well.

Bill Caughey


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