Tragedy Strikes at Home

The statistics paint a stark picture. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among fifteen to twenty-two-year-olds. And the already high odds of a teenage driver having an accident are highest in the summer months, when teens spend many more hours driving each week than during the school year.

Last Thursday night the picture came into painfully sharp focus on a foggy, dark road in the rural reaches of the Island when the car driven by Kelly McCarron, age seventeen, went out of control killing Jena Pothier who was a passenger and critically injuring Ms. McCarron.

Suddenly two young women became one more statistic.

But of course it is much more than that. When tragedy hits in a small community the reverberations are at once immediate and far-reaching. It’s not just another bit of news; it’s the main news — in the coffee shops, in the schools, in the ball fields, in the community newspaper.

Jena Pothier and Kelly McCarron and their families are known to many, as the reader comments that poured into the Gazette Web site over the weekend attest. Jena graduated from the regional high school last year and had played Babe Ruth league softball. Her dad is the one who takes such good care of our cars at his business near the airport. Her mom works at the hospital.

Now they are grieving and no one can imagine the depth of their pain except parents who have lost children themselves. But thankfully, at a time like this the Pothiers are not alone. They have family, friends and acquaintances surrounding them with love and support and comfort and casseroles, offering many strong shoulders to lean on during this time of unfathomably deep sadness over the loss of their daughter.

The accident cast a pall over graduation ceremonies Sunday afternoon, where Kelly McCarron did not stand with her class but instead lay in a hospital bed in Boston recovering from injuries.

Nevertheless it was a day when the sun shone and hundreds gathered to rejoice and congratulate the graduates.

And perhaps also to silently hope that what went into the record books this week will be the last of its kind, though we know that it will not be so.

A selection of the reader comments to the Gazette is published on this page today, and it serves as a community guest book of sorts, filled with expressions of sympathy. There will be hundreds more such expressions in the days weeks and weeks to come as a funeral service is held for Jena Pothier and the Island slowly recovers from and learns how to live with this tragedy.