Letters to the editor: Victims are people, not stats

Readying for Christmas brings out the best, worst in us
December 16, 2014
Remembering Wayne White: Crime scene detective left a lot of marks on Terrebonne
December 16, 2014
Readying for Christmas brings out the best, worst in us
December 16, 2014
Remembering Wayne White: Crime scene detective left a lot of marks on Terrebonne
December 16, 2014

LSP Superintendent: Fatal crash victims are people, not stats

Dear Editor,

Another phone call in the middle of the night. Another notification by my team, “Colonel, we have a fatal crash with four dead in Avoyelles.”

As I sit here awake, I can’t help but recall the phone calls I’ve received or made over my seven years as superintendent and 34 years as a state trooper. I can’t help but reflect on the last few weeks as we are in the midst of the end of the year holiday period. And I’m reminded that these fatal crash victims are not statistics. They are not mere numbers. They were, until their untimely and tragic death, living, breathing people.

The numbers are hard and cold and present a more sanitized view of motor vehicle crashes. And sure it’s difficult to watch as those numbers roll in each holiday period and throughout the year. And it’s even more disturbing when we look back over the last few weeks.

Since Nov. 19, just prior to the Thanksgiving holidays until today, Louisiana State Police troopers have worked 41 fatal crashes. That is 41 fatal crashes in 24 days with 52 fatalities. Of the 52 fatalities, 60 percent involved lack of seatbelt use, 20 percent of the fatal crashes involved confirmed impairment and in another 51 percent impairment may have played a role.

Those toxicology results are pending. Sure it’s tough to read those statistics but what’s heartbreaking is to hear the stories behind the numbers.

We refuse to view the 52 lives lost in automobile crashes since Nov. 19 as some statistic. They are people. They are our family, our friends, our neighbors and our fellow citizens. They have names, faces, mothers and fathers, siblings, friends and each has personal history.

When these 52 individuals awoke on that fateful day thinking about school, or work, or weekend activities, none of them thought about dying in a car crash.

But the tragedies have become too frequent, and each time I get a message about another fatality, it makes me think about the lives lost and the lives affected. I think about the Texas family on I-20 enroute to Disney World and the sisters enroute to Dutchtown High School. I think about the first responders who render aid, the troopers, deputies and officers who investigate and make notification, the family and friends who are directly affected by the loss of life, the memorial services and all who grieve. And I think about what more we can do.

The only solution is for us all to work together. Troopers will continue proactive enforcement. Troopers will continue informative educational campaigns.

However, troopers need your help. Make a commitment to wear your seatbelt. Make a commitment to never drive impaired. Make a commitment to avoid distracted driving.

We are not statistics. We are people with bright futures. Make safety a priority.

Col. Michael D. Edmonson

Superintendent, La. State Police; deputy secretary, La. Department of Public Safety

It was about teachers, but it was for our kids

Dear Editor,

To the entire community of Terrebonne Parish, thank you! Through the successful passage of the ½ cent sales tax, you have taken a bold step forward in the support of education in our parish. With the revenues realized from this tax, needed resources will be generated that will bring teacher and employee salaries from some of the lowest in Louisiana to a level more in line with our neighboring parishes.

It was an issue of great importance to our schools and to our parish and on behalf of Terrebonne’s 2,300 teachers and employees, and the more than 18,000 students under their care, we offer our most sincere thank you.

Going forward, we are committed to attracting and retaining the very best educators to our school system. This endeavor is a core component of our plan, not merely to hold our position as one of the top performing districts in the state, but also as the foundation of our plan to become the top performing district in the state.

We know that the single most important factor in a student’s education is a qualified, certified teacher in the classroom; and while we have some of the best, most creative and most dedicated educators anywhere, we need more like them. Your vote to support the sales tax also supports our teachers in another way – they feel appreciated for the important work they do.

Our pledge to the community is that we will do everything we can to recruit and attract qualified professionals to Terrebonne Parish. The future of any community relies on the strength and vitality of its public school system, and we believe that Terrebonne Parish can be the premier school district in Louisiana.

And finally, to all who gave so much of themselves in these recent months in dedication to this effort, we offer our most sincere thanks as well. Your commitment to education and to our kids has been inspiring.

Philip Martin