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What does it take to stop it?

October 24th, 2004 · 3 Comments

Earlier this week, while driving around the island, I happened to pass by the site where a car crash killed a 16 year old girl in August. I had not driven on Tolo Road since the incident and I had not seen the words and pictures people have placed where Sarah Gillette died. Pulling out a camera and taking a photo seemed irreverent. But I think I will remember for a long time the shrine of grief expressed in the trees and brush by the side of the road.

Also this week, the girl who was driving the car appeared in the news:

A 14-year-old Bainbridge Island girl whose alleged reckless driving on Tolo Road last August caused the death of a teenage passenger plans to take legal responsibility after charges were levied against her Wednesday.


According to the case file, the girl allegedly drove the 2003 Ford Explorer between 76 mph and 83 mph down the dark, slick stretch of Tolo Road. The vehicle, with eight juveniles inside, reportedly swerved into the oncoming lane before leaving the roadway and crashing into a stand of trees.

An article in today’s Bainbridge Review (not yet on-line!) mentioned that this girl and her family have moved off of the island. The article also quoted sources that said essentially nothing has changed.

But the impact on high-risk behavior and partying was short-lived, according to some students and the principal at Bainbridge High School….[…]

“It hasn’t really affected anything, ” Bainbridge High School sophomore Lauren Silk said.

According to the article, another girl – who declined to give her name – is quoted as saying “This is not going to stop what goes on on this island.” And the principal said “I’d love to be able to say an incident like this has a dramatic and lasting impact on the behavior of others, but I don’t see the evidence to support that.”

I am surprised and saddened. I think there is a point to going on with life after grief. But if Sarah Gillette’s death doesn’t impact behavior and change how we are living on Bainbridge, then it will be even more of a tragedy.

Tags: island

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mad Times // Oct 24, 2004 at 3:23 pm


    Over on Seedlings & Sprouts, Julie talks about driving by the site where a 16-year-old girl was killed in a car crash earlier this year on Bainbridge Island. Julie points to some articles that bemoan the fact that the tragedy…

  • 2 Chris Gillette // Nov 2, 2004 at 6:18 am

    As Sarah’s father, I wish there were more I could do to stop our children from making more terrible mistakes. And I say “our” children because they are both the pride, joy, future and, most significantly, the responsibility of all of us as a community, nation and as human beings. It saddens me beyond measure that Sarah’s death has become nothing more than a footnote.

    At her memorial, I asked the children who were there to please look out for one another, to trust and believe in each other and to live up to that trust. I asked that they learn from this incident that they are not immortal, that they are fundamentally human and fallible and that they can only avoid tragic consequences by loving each other enough to care.

    Less than a 6 weeks later, one of the kids in the car was charged with his second MIP.

    In truth, it now appears that Sarah died for nothing, that nobody will learn anything and that in 6 months everyone will have forgotten except her mother and I, her stepfather, her twin sister and her brother. All of us live with this tragedy every moment of every day.

    Love your children enough to say no.

    My love to all –

    Chris Gillette

  • 3 Julie Leung: Seedlings & Sprouts // Nov 5, 2004 at 8:00 am

    “Love your children enough to say no”

    Before we left on our trip to LA, I wrote a post What will it take to stop it? asking whether the death of 16 year old Sarah Gillette would have any effect on the dangerous choices made by island…