Letters to the Editor

Drug and alcohol problem is out of control on San Juan Island

(RE: "Suspected driver in fatal San Juan crash released from hospital; case being investigated as 'potential vehicular homicide'")

I was a friend of Dana's growing up, though I haven't talked to him in a long time. I met John briefly, and knew of him as Sabien. I sympathize greatly with every one affected by this tragedy (including Dana Kempton). Sabien was a really nice guy. I only met him several times but you could tell he was very kind and meant well. Dana is the same way.

Unfortunately, from growing up in Friday Harbor (in the same class as Dana), I understand the reasons behind this tragedy more than most people. The drug and alcohol problem is out of control on San Juan Island. Until now, I've never been mature enough to say that myself.

On San Juan Island, drinking and driving was extremely prevalent (and socially normal) among EVERYONE I knew growing up. I lost a good friend my junior year in high school to an alcohol-related accident. He was hit by another friend of mine who was driving under the influence. This is absolutely ridiculous. I'll be the first to admit that binge drinking is an epidemic for my generation and the generations following. I've almost lost several other friends because of alcohol abuse, and I've been in situations that could have easily compromised my own life as well.

I believe the only solution is education. These tragedies could easily be diverted. Dana's drug and alcohol education was a COMPLETE JOKE, and so was mine. On an island where the youth are bored and restless, solutions are desperately needed in the community. The youth need more outlets or you can guarantee these tragedies will occur over and over again. It sickens me and people need to take charge. Not by just making arrests.

Dana was an adult, but his behaviors were developed and accepted while he was a Friday Harbor teen-ager. Almost everyone in my class behaved the same way. Our culture seems to embrace rebellion and stupidity rather than intelligence and discipline.

I saw Dana a couple years ago, and I could tell he had been abusing substances just by the way he looked. I know a lot of people who have turned out the same way. I'm really sad for Dana because I know this could have happened to many people, especially on San Juan Island. He should not be charged for vehicular homicide. I know this is an emotional matter for everyone, and this incident is rightfully being taken seriously. But, John was a friend of Dana's, and homicide implies willful killing of another human being. When it comes down to it, it was an accident of stupidity, but an accident none the less.

Our entire community is to blame, not just Dana Kempton. He will live with this weight forever, which is a punishment worse than death.

Josh Hanna
Friday Harbor

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