You might think Western New Yorkers had grown thick skins about senseless deaths caused by, or attributed to, drunks behind the wheel.
After all, there has been what seems like a continual succession of tragedies in this area. Until this week, the most prominent of those was the death of 18-year-old Alix Rice, killed instantly when Dr. James G. Corasanti, texting and driving and intoxicated, slammed into her.
It was a shocking case, but hardly less so than the heartbreaking death last week of Baylee Marie Dion. The 7-month-old daughter of Denise Hine and Scott Dion was killed Tuesday morning when a Ford Explorer driven by Danielle Kellogg of Brant crossed the center lane and slammed into the Pontiac Grand Am driven by Hine. The impact sheared the car in two.
Rescuers tried to revive Baylee, whom they rushed to Lake Shore Health Care Center in Irving, but to no avail. She was pronounced dead. Her mother suffered multiple fractures and internal injuries and was taken to Erie County Medical Center.
Kellogg, 24, suffered only minor injuries. She was treated at ECMC, and then charged with DWI and vehicular manslaughter. She was released from the Erie County Holding Center on Thursday after $20,000 bail was posted. She previously had been charged with DWI in 2009.
There seems to be no cure for this problem. Addiction, compulsion and immaturity are powerful forces and there seems little anyone can do to protect themselves against a drunk at the wheel. Baylee had been buckled into her car seat and her mother tried to avoid the car hurtling toward her.
What people certainly can do, though, is to protect others against themselves and others who are drinking.
In another recent case, Michael C. Ettipio was so drunk he couldn’t stand up and had to be shown where his car was parked. His blood alcohol, when it was measured, was three times the legal limit but, by then, he had already driven into Bryce Buchholz, a Lancaster Middle School student who was riding his bicycle.
Bryce might still be alive if someone at the bar – Ettipio’s friends, the bartender, the restaurant employees – had intervened. They didn’t. They didn’t cause Bryce’s death, but they might have prevented it.
We are fully into the season of excessive drinking – at office parties, in homes, while out celebrating New Year’s Eve. The potential for more mindless devastation is at its peak. Drivers, friends and family have to be aware.
Those who know they are going to drink need a designated driver whom they know will consume no alcohol. Those who see someone who is under the influence preparing to drive need to offer help: call a taxi or arrange another ride for the person.
And if a drunk gets behind the wheel, anyway, do that person a favor and call the police. Better that a friend deals with a DWI arrest than a homicide and years in prison.
Western New York is bleeding with people who wish somebody had called the cops before they got behind the wheel. And so are the families of the victims.