Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

October 10, 2004

The loss of Natalie is the real tragedy

Last night, I had to explain to my 4-year old daughter why her friend, Natalie Valasco, would not be in her class today at Grace Church Childcare in Elkridge. Natalie was tragically killed Saturday (Oct. 2) when Nicholas Thayer's car crossed a double yellow line on a narrow, winding two-lane road and struck the vehicle in which Natalie was a passenger. This happened just moments after a resident of the local community yelled to Thayer to slow down because he was clearly traveling dangerously at a high rate of speed.

The Sun article today ("Teen still in critical condition after accident," Oct. 5) failed to mention anything about Natalie, except that she was not properly restrained in the vehicle. The Sun published several comments from Mr. Thayer's friends indicating that he was a "caring and giving" person who "loved to meet new people." I don't doubt those qualities.

Unfortunately, Nicholas won't have the opportunity to meet Natalie. She was a beautiful little girl who, despite her inability to speak English when she first began attending Grace, quickly made many friends. She had a wonderful, cheerful and uplifting disposition and clearly enjoyed being with the other children. These classmates happily helped indoctrinate Natalie into the daily activities of her class. They also helped her communicate with the teachers and other children, often learning and speaking simple Spanish words with Natalie.

The loss of Natalie is the real tragedy and should have been the focus of your story. Mr. Thayer died as a result of his own actions, his decision to travel dangerously on a narrow wet road at a high rate of speed.

Rather than portray Natalie's death as a result of her father's failure to have her properly secured, while clearly a contributing factor, the article should have focused on some of the wonderful qualities for which Natalie will be fondly remembered and the real cause of her premature and tragic death. The erratic and reckless driving that led to the accident. After all, if Mr. Thayer had been observing the law, they both would be alive today and Natalie's classmates could have been spared this early and unnecessary explanation of the loss of a friend.

Randy Blair

Elkridge

Parents should limit their young drivers

The recent traffic-related deaths of six teenagers with roots in Howard and Montgomery Counties is a grim reminder of just how precious and fragile a young life can be.

As the mother of a teenager, I know all too well the anxiety a parent feels when a newly licensed driver puts the car in gear and pulls away.

As a legislator, I am also sadly aware that traffic accidents are the leading cause of death of young adults in this country.

Last year, I co-sponsored legislation that would have prohibited unrelated minors from riding as passengers in cars driven by provisional license holders under the age of 18, for the first six months after the provisional license is issued.

Unfortunately, the legislation did not pass and we'll never know if it would have made a difference in the lives of these young people who were lost in such senseless, preventable tragedies.

But parents don't need a state mandate to place restrictions on their own children who may be driving or riding in cars with their friends. I urge every parent to set practical ground rules with their children. It may save their lives.

How many more young lives are we willing to sacrifice? When I reintroduce this legislation in the upcoming session, I hope my colleagues will answer "none" by voting for its passage. I hope Howard County residents will answer "none," also, by setting limits with their young drivers before handing over the keys to the car.

Sandra B. Schrader

Columbia

The writer is a Republican State Senator, Howard County, District 13

School redistricting should be done fairly

All caught up on the latest school redistricting? Me neither.

During past redistricting, maps were published and distributed. This time we have [a] very confusing verbal description of the redistricting. Some interesting aspects to consider in this redistricting, though, are the following:

The school system is again planning to open an exclusive private school at the new Marriott's Ridge High School. With the feeder system set up as it is now, students who graduate from that school will have never actually met a poor person during their twelve years in school.

The school system has already set up boundaries such that this will be one of the top performing schools in the county. On the other hand, a few schools in the county aren't quite so lucky as they struggle to serve expanding needy populations.

The other odd thing is the middle school redistricting. The school system decided to make changes because too few children moved from Patapsco Middle School during the last redistricting, thus it continues at well over 100% occupancy.

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