Letters to the Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 26, 2006

Errors exacerbate shock and grief

Ellicott City, and the Mount Hebron community in particular, still is recovering from the shock of the tragedy Feb. 17 that took the promising life of Michele Iampieri, one of our seniors. Imagine my frustration when we have to add errors from the police investigation to our grief and sadness.

There is no better place to start a rumor than in a high school. The staff at Mount Hebron is exceptionally good at handling the talk that spreads through the grapevine, but our task is made infinitely more difficult when those whose job it is to investigate and relay "the facts" make such egregious errors in their quest for the truth concerning this accident.

I find it appalling that a bottle of suntan lotion can be mistaken for alcohol and that the error can go unrecognized long enough for the police to report the information incorrectly. Not only have we spent an entire day answering questions of our already fragile students who are struggling to make sense of what occurred a few short days ago, but now we also must prepare to explain how it's even possible that such a mistake can occur in the first place.

We have an incredibly caring group of students at Mount Hebron, and not a day has gone by when I haven't heard them asking their teachers, "Are you OK? How are you holding up?" They consistently put their own hurt aside so that they can take care of others, even the adults who are here to support them.

Our kids are amazing in their strength and capacity for love, but at the end of the day they are still just kids. They still believe that they are invincible, that a tragedy won't happen to them. I implore parents everywhere to be sure that as time goes by the memory of what happened doesn't fade, allowing complacency to set in once again.

What I also find distressing is that the article Feb. 22 with its bold headline was given full attention on the front of the Howard County section, but the corrected information was buried the next day in the Maryland section in middle of page 3B. It's interesting that the confirmation of what was actually found in the car doesn't warrant the same attention as what we were previously led to believe. I can only hope that the embarrassment of those involved in providing the public with inaccurate details is in some way commensurate with the grief that we will continue to experience with our family at Mount Hebron.

Lisa Vitali

Columbia

The writer is an English teacher at Mount Hebron High School.

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