It was hard for me to decide what kind of tone I wanted to use while discussing the recent crash
that occurred on Hwy 33. I’m sympathetic to the family of the elderly couple who died. I feel bad for the families of the others. Ultimately, there are things that have to be said by members of this community, and they aren’t pleasant. So if I offend, then perhaps I’ve touched a nerve.
More than once in the past week, I’ve heard the phrase, “They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Of course, the statement was referring to the elderly couple who was driving home from the Marshfield clinic. The problem is that the Mr. and Mrs. Bretschneider were in the right place at the right time. The driver was licensed, he was sober, he was on the correct side of the road. If anyone was in the wrong place at the wrong time, it was Timothy Beck and the occupants of his car.
There are so many questions that come up in situations like these. Where were the parents? Where did the alcohol come from? Why was this 16 year old hanging out with 19 and 25 year olds? Why did they get in that car? Why weren’t they wearing their seatbelts? How did they consume all this alcohol in a public park and no one saw them? And after the accident, why are people saying “kids will be kids” and not blinking an eye when the roadside memorial
has been turned into an advertisement for cheap American beers?
There is plenty of blame to go around. I’ll dish some out.
Parents of the driver and passengers and of high school kids who drink in general: I blame you. I blame you for not knowing where your kids are. I blame you for either not knowing your children were drinking or for not stopping it if you knew. I blame you for not instilling in them the sanctity of life and respect for their bodies. I blame you for giving your children a weapon more powerful than a gun whose speed and weight give it the ability to kill in a moment of bad judgment. I blame you for letting your child drive illegally.
Friends: I blame you for being weak. I blame you for not tattling on your friends who you knew were drinking alcohol because even though your tattling might save a life (or 5), you were too worried about looking cool. I blame you for not applying the lessons you learned in your endless DARE presentations to real life. I blame you for not learning the lessons from the last drunk driving accident your school experienced. I blame you for thinking you’re invincible. I blame you for thinking that you are grown-ups at 16 and that the rules don’t apply to you. I blame you for being insensitive schmucks and memorializing your friends with beer cans.
West Bend/Newburg/Saukville: I blame you for not paying attention. When you see drunk kids in the park, I blame you for not calling the cops. I blame you for not opening your eyes to the drinking problem here in our town and everywhere else. I blame you for making the lives of teenagers so cushy that they can go out drinking on Thursday night. I blame you for not leading by example. I blame you for not demanding that West Bend high schools have some serious alcohol counseling.
But most of all, I blame you, Timothy Beck: I blame you for your reckless behavior. I blame you for drinking underage then getting into a car and driving it into the car of the 18 year old who, because he was sober, was able to regain control and help clear the wreckage you left on the road after you rammed your weapon of destruction into the car of the innocent Bretschneiders. I blame you for searing the image of your dead body and those of your friends into the mind of that 18 year old survivor. I blame you for leaving one friend behind who will be forced for the rest of his life to live with the anger and disgust this community feels for your actions and those of your friends. I blame you for dying so that you don’t have to bear the grief, guilt, and devastation of your actions.
Ultimately, I hope that this tragedy is a wake up call to our community that our kids need some serious help, or at the very minimum, a little supervision. I hope that instead of raising their glasses to the victims, kids will put them down. I hope that it will become less uncool to say no to alcohol. I hope we won’t have anymore of this “wrong place, wrong time” stuff. I hope something good can come out of this tragedy. But the sad part is that I don’t think anything will.