Columnist Tim Worstall, a British contributor to the Forbes website, made a controversial suggestion last month that provoked a good bit of tongue-wagging and online chatter in response....
Young men and women are returning to Washington & Jefferson College this week, beginning another chapter in their lives just as the tragic tale of a fellow student reached its conclusion.
It was almost two years ago, in the early morning hours of Oct. 4, 2012, that football teammates Tim McNerney and Zack DeCicco were walking back to campus from a South Main Street tavern when their path crossed those of three men whose intent was robbery. One of those men, Eric Wells, punched McNerney, who fell, hitting his head against a brick wall – a blow that proved fatal. Many months later, police used the tracking device on McNerney’s phone to capture Wells and his two companions, Adam Hankins and Troy Simmons. They were eventually convicted in a nonjury trial before visiting Allegheny County Judge Edward Borkowski, who Monday sentenced them to prison sentences ranging from seven to 31 years. The killing, as Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone put it, “tore a hole in the community.” The hunt for his killers was long and frustrating for McNerney’s family as well as for local residents and the college community. All yearned for closure.
Monday’s sentencing may have shut the book on the case, but “closure” in these circumstances is no more than an illusion.
Such a senseless act damaged and destroyed too many lives to simply go away.
“I lost what’s most valuable in my world,” McNerney’s mother said at the sentencing hearing. The pain of that kind of loss can never really go away.
The psychological damage, too, will not soon diminish. College students and city residents, understandably, do not feel safe, and the fear and prejudice caused by such incidents is an aggressive infection.
Destroyed, too, are the lives of the perpetrators who may spend 10 or 20 years or longer in prisons that have become colleges of crime and cruelty. How likely is it that after serving their terms they find jobs and become productive and nonviolent citizens? The odds are depressingly small.
All this damage resulted from what Judge Borkowski called, “an unfortunate crime of opportunity fueled by alcohol and ego.”
Simmons, one of the attackers, said Monday, “My actions were selfish, they were stupid, they were reckless.”
How much different things would be if he recognized that before the attack, rather than after it.
A spate of fiery car crashes this week reminds us that although vehicles are equipped with more safety devices than ever, driving too fast, driving under the influence of alcohol or simply driving safely, but in the wrong place at the wrong time, can be not just dangerous, but fatal.
It is especially important drivers be aware most schools in the area will be in session next week and to operate their vehicles even more cautiously. Children, many of them excited by the start of a new school year, will be boarding buses in the morning and stepping off them in the afternoon and in doing so crossing streets. Drivers who ignore school-zone speed limits, pass stopped school buses or are distracted by their phones risk tragic consequences.
Our advice for all those behind the wheel is to stay alert, be patient and, in doing so, save the life of a child.
Our roads and streets are like the weather – something we all have in common, something we can complain about and something we seem unable to fix....
In a story that appeared in this newspaper Aug. 8 on the long waits many patrons who use the Washington Rides transit system have experienced in recent weeks, we were struck by an observation made by Sheila Gombita, the executive director of Washington Transportation Authority....