Tragic accident
Any loss of life in a traffic accident is tragic. Such incidents are even more devastating when young people are involved.

An accident that happened either late Tuesday or early Wednesday serves as an example of how quickly fun events can turn to tragedy. At some point during that time period, a vehicle carrying five teenagers and an adult overturned at a curve on a dirt road. Four of the teenagers and the adult were killed, and another person was seriously injured.

Authorities suspect alcohol may have been involved because of the location of the crash, about 17 miles south of Centennial Park, Ariz., and other factors. That particular location is known to be an area where some residents go to conduct parties.

The investigation is ongoing, so there's no way to know yet if alcohol was a factor. But regardless, the mere thought that it could have played a role in the crash should serve as a reminder to parents to have serious discussions with children about the dangers of alcohol and other substances in general and, in particular, how those substances become even more dangerous when a vehicle is involved.

While not everything is known about the crash, this much is certain: Families are hurting, facing intense pain over the loss of loved ones who were taken from this world at such young ages - from 15 to 22.

The world will never know how these young people might have added to society. They won't be spouses. They won't be parents. They won't serve in any number of roles that help a community to flourish.

That is the harsh reality of what can happen when even a split second of careless behavior is allowed when something as big and heavy as an automobile is in motion.

The communities along the border of Arizona and Utah often are in the news because of polygamy and acts carried out by leaders of the dominant church there. But that isn't the case this time. Indeed, this time it is because of a tragedy, most likely one that could have been prevented.

Parents, take a few moments to use this incident as a start for a discussion with your teenager. Let them know how much you love them and how much you want them to return safely time and time again.

Help others learn - and live - because of this tragedy.
Originally published March 14, 2012