Sunday, March 24, 2013

Forgive, but with consequences

It would be horrible to kill your best friend. I get that. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve learned your lesson and should get off with just “living with having killed someone” as your only consequence, even if your best friend’s own mother doesn’t want you to suffer, too.

BMW, taken by KPTV
According to news reports, 18 year olds Yuriy Tasmaly and Mikhail Golovach took a friend’s car without permission to go on a “joy ride” after a night of drinking. Yuriy lost control of the vehicle and slid into a tree. Emergency personnel responding to reports of a crash found Mikhail dead in the car and the driver missing. Yuriy was eventually found about two miles away and taken to the hospital with his own minor injuries and to “sober up.” He was then arrested. Bail is set at $200,000.

Yuriy Tasmaly, taken by The Columbian
Numerous friends and family have shown support for him, including Mikhails’ own girlfriend and mother. Comments friends have made are “now we all have Yurka's back because we can't stand the thought of losing him, too,” “he would never ditch his friend. If I was in shock I would probably do the same thing,” and “most of the charges are without basis.”

"Most of the charges are without basis." Vehicular homicide, hit-and-run, driving while suspended, minor in possession of alcohol, theft of a motor vehicle... An intoxicated 18 year old, using a car he didn't have permission to use (whose owner reported it stolen), drove while his license was suspended (due to previous instances of recklessness and drunkenness), and killed another person then left the scene. No basis? Even if given the benefit of the doubt on the hit-and-run (some say he left to get help), there is certainly basis.

I'm sorry for both families. I know that the pain of losing a loved one forever and of losing another to prison is devastating, but there must be severe consequences for someone who had already had opportunities to stop and learn. Sometimes prison is the help some people need to learn they don't have the right to risk other people's lives for their own selfish desires. It's too bad that not only the person responsible pays, so do friends and family who love him. And it’s also difficult, perhaps, for friends and family to understand that it’s not enough for them to think “he’s learned his lesson, don’t punish him more,” when he endangered everyone on the road, not just the person who knew he’d been drinking and chose to get in the car with him anyway. Everybody has a stake in this, not just family.

Ashawntae and Dustin. Picture by Jonathan Maus
My son was killed by a drunk 18 year old who left the scene. I now speak at numerous victim impact panels (maybe Yuriy attended one I spoke at last year), and I have also forgiven the person who killed Dustin. I’ve even met with him in prison. But Ashawntae, too, had already been in trouble: a previous property damage hit-and-run, possession of ecstasy, etc. Obviously he had learned nothing, because he was still on probation when he killed Dustin. I forgive him, I’m supporting him, but he needs harsher consequences than just living with the knowledge he took another young man’s life.

It is very sad what some people do to other people and it is very sad they often have to learn the hard way. Yuriy is lucky. He has a second chance... It will be hard but he can make a better future for himself. And a safer one for everyone else on the road with him.

1 comment:

  1. There is a "pervasive" lack of accountability with people today. It hurts to see this, and I do believe that some cultures, of this multi-cultural america encourage this, a result of fear from government abuses. However, we are ALL on the same spiritual path towards love, forgiveness, respect, humility and compassion which CANNOT be reached through a total LACK OF HUMANITY towards each other.