A twin tragedy was on display in Berkshire Superior Court on Wednesday, produced by a car accident that ended the life of one teenager and changed forever the life of another. The victim impact statements by the family of Remy Kirshner, killed at the age of 17 in December of 2011, were heartbreaking, as was the apology of 19-year-old Philip K. Baruch, Jr., like Kirshner a Lenox resident, who was convicted of speeding and driving in an impaired state when he crashed into a tree in Lee. Ms. Kirshner died at the scene.
Ben Garver’s A-1 photo of Mr. Baruch sitting slumped in a chair in the courtroom spoke volumes. He is not evil, but his irresponsible actions, to which he pled guilty, resulted in a sentence of up to six years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction for vehicular homicide. He will still have his life ahead of him when he is released, which Ms. Kirshner will not, something he will have to live with as best he can. Tragedies like this are often referred to as "cautionary tales" and "object lessons," though evidence suggests they are not. We hope this one will be -- for anyone, but in particular a happy-go-lucky teenager, about to turn the ignition key while impaired by drink or drugs.
Also on Wednesday, a North Adams man was arrested and charged for the fourth time with drunken driving, as well as a few other charges, after being pulled over by North Adams police. Happily, this did not end tragically, but multiple DUIs constitute multiple rolls of the dice, each inviting tragedy. Longer prison sentences for those convicted of drunken driving may or may not discourage drunken driving, but they will at least lower the odds that these drivers will trigger lifelong tragedies.