EDITOR'S COLUMN | Confessions from a bunny killer

I ran over a rabbit on the way to work this week.

Hitting wildlife seems to be a rite of passage for Whidbey Islanders, but I still feel like scum. It wasn’t a deer, but why couldn’t it have been a caterpillar?

Looking in my rearview mirror at the indistinct lump in the roadway, I steeled myself for the  grizzly task of moving my poor victim out of the street. I’ll spare you the details, but it turns out my conscience may be clear as I now strongly suspect it was killed earlier that morning by another motorist.

Standing under the summer sun, I rejoiced that I wasn’t the murderer after all, just a donkey who ran over a corpse. My guilt began to evaporate, being replaced with self-righteous relief, but it didn’t last. Driving the rest of the way to work, I knew I bore responsibility. Whether the rabbit died by my hand or not, the fact is I didn’t see it until it was too late. I could have driven slower, made sure all the fog was off my windshield before leaving the driveway, or simply been watching more carefully.

The point is some mistakes simply can’t be taken back, and on the eve of graduation night my hope is that this little confession, that I am a bunny killer, reaches the class of 2014. Automobiles are dangerous, and combined with drugs or alcohol they’re just plain deadly.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2012 — that’s one person every 51 minutes, or to put it in Whidbey terms, about half the population of Oak Harbor.

Such statistics seem distant, a thing that happens in other communities and could never touch our fuzzy and happy community. Sadly, our very own horror stories remind us that is not so.

The gravity and finality of this lesson hit home for me during my junior year of high school. I told a classmate that he’d better ease up with the partying because, blah, blah, blah. It was a joke, but there was no last laugh for either of us. A few days later he was dead, squashed under a rolled jeep that was traveling too fast down a mountain road after a late-night shindig. The driver was, of course, drunk.

People do die, it really does happen.

Graduation is a momentous occasion, a day that will likely stay with you forever. Don’t mar it with the wrong memories. Make the right choice and drive safely.

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