We are not yet into December, yet already we have a grim holiday poster child.
Rounds of parties and holiday cheer are coming to town. Already we have a cautionary tale, for this and for all seasons.
I do not want to make a martyr of a 7-month-old girl. Someone who had hardly lived cannot be seen as dying for any cause.
But in trying to make sense of the senseless, in trying to wrap our arms around an unfathomable tragedy, it is human nature to look for a larger purpose or message.
If there is one, I think I found it: Do not go out, get trashed and get behind the wheel of a car.
The life you take could be one that has barely begun.
Victims do not come more innocent, more blameless and more tragic than a 7-month-old girl.
Baylee Dion is dead because, police say, a 24-year-old woman was so blotto – at 9 o’clock in the morning, no less – that she drove her SUV into the oncoming lane of traffic on Southwestern Boulevard in Brant. Danielle Kellogg’s SUV blasted into the Grand Am driven by Baylee’s mother, Denise Hine, with such force that the car split in two.
Hine suffered multiple fractures and internal damage, but she will make it. Her infant daughter was not as lucky.
There are pictures of Baylee Dion in the newspaper and television, which I urge you to avoid unless you want your heart broken. The girl, although buckled in her car seat, never had a chance. The only blessing is that Baylee’s 4-year-old sister, Ciera, was not in the car. Her mother dropped her at pre-K minutes earlier.
I do not know what it takes to make someone, anyone, think twice about having one too many. I do not know how many budding lives have to be blasted into oblivion – whether it is 18-year-old Alix Rice or 7-month-old Baylee Dion – before the message breaks through the boozy haze.
But if ever there was a casualty that could rip open people’s eyes, that could persuade them never to cross the line between happy and hammered, it is this one: Baylee Dion, dead at 7 months.
Wednesday’s news conference at ECMC was heartbreaking in its essence and offensive in its familiarity: Shattered family. Devastated parents. Pleas for common sense. Each of these stories is unique. Yet all are variations on the same senseless theme.
“People need to wake up,” said Scott Dion, Baylee’s dad, through a haze of tears, “and realize how much damage they can do.”
His mother, Linda Dion, gripped her son’s arm – tattooed with the name of his daughter Ciera.
“This is the holiday season. … I implore you: Talk to anyone who [is drinking],” she said. “We never wanted to feel this feeling, and no one else will ever want to, believe me.”
I am all for cracking down on drunken drivers. I think repeat offenders should serve time. Friends and family of alcoholics need to step in before tragedy strikes. But it comes down to each of us.
If the memory of this tragedy stops one driver from getting bombed, if it prevents even one death, then maybe Baylee Dion did not die in vain.
A tiny girl is crying out from the grave. If we don’t hear her, then who?