By editorial board • 

Steel sent hurtling down the highway never something to be

Drugs, alcohol, guns and fast cars seem to hold a sinister fascination for American youth. And that goes double or triple for the male component.

Tuesday’s edition brought the fast car element home in particularly tragic and telling fashion.

On the front page (also in today’s edition) appeared news of the weekend arrests of a pair of young men, one from Amity, the other from Lafayette, for allegedly engaging in a high-speed street race resulting in a spectacularly tragic end. They are now facing manslaughter charges after one spun into an oncoming van, killing an innocent motorist just outside of McMinnville on Highway 99W.

Inside, we carried the story of a Willamina youth, just three years out of high school, who lost his life when he struck a concrete Interstate 5 bridge pillar at an estimated 100 mph. Troopers said he was racing in the right lane, legally reserved for slower-moving traffic, when an unsuspecting motorist ahead eased over into his path south of Woodburn.

We also ran the story of a 16-year-old who allegedly led police on a high-speed chase culminating in a crash at Second and Michelbook, by Newby Elementary. He could easily have compounded his crash injuries by catching a bullet, as police fired into his car while attempting a high-risk stop at gunpoint.

These incidents took a terrible toll.

One man lost his life at 21, another at 43. An 18-year-old girl has spent more than six weeks in Intensive Care, battling to preserve a life that has been terribly diminished at best. Three other participants suffered injuries serious enough to require hospital runs by ambulance.

The alleged street racers are facing charges that could net them long stretches in prison, severely damaging whatever hopes and dreams they had previously entertained. Meanwhile, the teen is facing criminal charges of his own, at least one of which will be tried in adult court. That doesn’t represent a very promising trajectory for him either.

Then there are the suffering families to consider, on both sides. There’s nothing the courts can do to salve the wounds left by what appears to be nothing more thanthree rash actions at the wheel of speeding autos.

Actions have consequences. And while actions may play out in seconds, consequences can linger a lifetime, piling on pain year after year after year.

We need to drive that message home every day in every way.

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