Letter to a young driver under media attack

Dear __________:

On a winter’s day in 1963, I was the driver in a single car accident that nearly killed a 10-year-old boy. Seventeen years old and newly licensed, I was driving along a private road on a school campus. The boy was lying on flexible flier sled, sliding down a footpath that crossed the road. Both path and road were lined with snowbanks, obscuring him from view. Before I knew what had happened, the boy shot out from the path and went under the rear wheels of the van I was driving.

The unconscious boy was rushed to a nearby hospital, then transferred to Children Hospital in Boston, where he underwent weeks of recovery.

I was lucky. The circumstances of the accident led people to understand it was not my fault. Family, friends, teachers, school officials, and fellow students—even the family of the injured boy—went out of their way to support me with kindness and compassion.

Even so, I was devastated.

I can scarcely imagine what it would have been like to go through that while having to endure the gossip and speculation visited on you by CTV and the Halifax Chronicle Herald. What the mob and those news organizations have done to you is reckless and cruel. And utterly wrong.

My accident happened 55 years ago. I went on to finish high school and university. I married and found an interesting career. I was lucky to move to Cape Breton, where I have lived almost 50 years. I have two magnificent sons and five wonderful grandchildren. I’ve enjoyed a happy life, and maybe done a little good along the way.

Back in the days and weeks after the accident, all this would have seemed impossible to me. But it was not impossible, it is what happened.

It’s not impossible for you, either. Hard as it must be to believe, time will ease the pain. You have been treated disgracefully by many people who ought to know better, but you will get through this. You will emerge stronger and wiser.

You have a big life to lead, and you must focus now on that. Hang with the people who support you. Believe me, those are the people who matter.

All the best,
Parker Donham