Any Parent's Nightmare

July 25, 1992

You can try to imagine being an Orioles baseball player -- as many of us sometimes do -- getting a late-inning, game-winning hit, as Sam Hulett's father did this week, and yet have no idea what that truly is like.

You can imagine being told that your young son has been struck by a car, as Oriole Tim Hulett and his wife Linda were this week, and be seized with the agony so strongly, you burst with salt tears yourself.

An entire team, an entire stadium, an entire city, a region was touched by the death of 6-year-old Samuel Wayne Hulett last Thursday. The boy died at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center from injuries he'd suffered the previous afternoon when he'd run into the street near his Cockeysville home and was struck by a car. The 30-year old driver, police said, was not at fault. You feel for her as for the Huletts. You also admire the Huletts for requesting, in the midst of their grief, that their son be kept on life-support to maintain his organs in the hope they could serve another child in need.

We learn with numbing frequency about the violent ends that befall children, from hideous cases of abuse to toddlers struck dead by bullets whizzing through their neighborhoods. In the wake of those tragedies come calls for more attentive social services or greater police presence. What makes the Hulett misfortune so wrenching and so real is that there is no ready answer. There are a million kids out there, a million cars, a million curbs. Police can lower speed limits but they can't outlaw accidents. Some 8,000 American children die accidentally each year.

Three days before the Hulett accident, 11-year-old Billy Griffith, was, like Sam Hulett, returning home from playing with his brothers. Following a sweet summer day of swimming, the Glen Burnie boy fell 50 feet from a railroad trestle the trio was crossing. Billy's adoptive father said all his "happy-go-lucky" son ever wanted was a family and the man wrung solace from the fact that his son was "one of the few people who truly had his dream fulfilled before he died."

Our condolences go out to the Huletts and the Griffiths.

We can only fantasize a ballplayer's thrill. But we feel a parent's pain.

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