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“If we deny this, we are deceiving ourselves”

December 13th, 2004 · No Comments

On Tuesday, the 14-year-old girl who drove the vehicle in which 16-year-old Sarah Gillette died last summer was sentenced to 15 to 36 weeks in a state juvenile prison and rehabilitation center. An article this week in the Kitsap Sun included pictures. There is one of Sarah, and one of her father, Chris, whom I’ve never met, but he wrote a comment on this blog. Below are excerpts from the article. This is the first time I’ve seen many details. The story includes instant messaging and marijuana smoking. There are also quotes from Sarah’s parents, the defendant, and the judge.

It began one summer night after two 14-year-old girls returned to Bainbridge Island from a Seattle festival, got on a computer and began instant messaging their friends.

The evening progressed when the two friends, who had been at “Hemp Fest” without their parents’ knowledge and had smoked marijuana, sneaked out of the house and stole a Ford Explorer belonging to one of their parents, according to court records.


After the first trip, the other 14-year-old girl asked if she could “do Tolo,” but the second trip didn’t go as planned.

The driver, going nearly 75 mph, tried to slow down on a steep hill when she lost control of the Explorer. It rolled down an embankment, flipped and hit a tree, killing 16-year-old passenger Sarah Gillette, who didn’t even know the driver, and seriously injuring four other teenage passengers.


“I want the children of Bainbridge Island to learn from this tragedy,” Sarah’s stepfather Anson Brooks said. ” I want the parents of Bainbridge Island to learn from this tragedy.”

Bainbridge Island police officer Maurine Stich called the accident “probably the worst” crash on the island.


The driver is convicted of making a reckless decision that killed a young girl, but the driver’s attorney also said the crash was a result of poor adolescent reasoning, something that could happen to any young person, and peer pressure.

“When you’re a teen who wants to be accepted, you do things you wouldn’t do if you were alone,” Richardson, the girl’s attorney, said in court.

Hartman, when handing out his sentence, said the crash was a result of more than one poor decision by one teenage girl. A little responsibility rests on the shoulders of all of the children in the car and their parents.

“If we deny this, we are deceiving ourselves,” he said.

I think a little responsibility rests on all of us who live in this community. And I am asking myself: what can I do?

Note: Also see fellow islander Chip Gibbons’ post

Tags: island

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