BRISTOL, Connecticut, USA — On a warm autumn night last month, Bristol teens gathered in Page Park for a candlelight vigil in loving memory of Amanda “Mandi” Quinto, the Bristol Eastern High School senior who died from injuries after a motorcycle accident three days earlier.
We cried and held one another, trying to understand why it was that we had lost one of our own, but the answer didn’t come. There were no answers. Mandi’s death — and the death of so many teenagers killed in such crashes — is senseless.
Police haven’t yet said whether alcohol was a factor, but we know that Mandi and the driver of the motorcycle had left a post-game drinking party moments before the crash.
Mandi was without the helmet that might have saved her.
Someone is killed in an alcohol-related accident every 30 seconds, according to statistics released by Students Against Drunk Driving.
They don’t have to die, and maybe Mandi didn’t have to die, either.
Lighting our candles, several of us noticed a handful of teens arriving on motorcycles. Some were without helmets, others carried quart bottles of Budweiser.
We began to wonder if it was the will of an omnipotent being that we had lost Mandi or through the flawed logic of our own self-destructive game. We wondered what it was that blinded so many of us to the obvious solution to such tragedy.
Mandi would have graduated this year. She had her whole life ahead of her. She was getting out of Bristol. She was going places.
Mandi would have succeeded at anything she put her mind to, would have shot across the melting skyline of this life in the firecracker style that all of us will remember her for. Yet she has burned out, never to glow again.
All of us ask ourselves why. All of us know the answer. All of us are responsible.
Joe Wilbur is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
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