The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Decisions of the invincible


I met Nick when I was about 12.

We were members of the same friend group for many years usually going to the movies or bowling together. Nick was a lover of big trucks and baseball, much like many young people around here, I'm sure. Nick was never known for being the smartest person around, even though he always managed good grades. He could never keep up with our smack talk, but that is one of the reasons we loved him. He received a community service award in high school because he was simply a nice person.

The summer before senior year of high school our friend group worked in the cantaloupe fields together. This was a seven day a week job. We spent every day working together and every night hanging out. We became very close, and even though time and distance have separated us, I still keep in touch with these friends and see all of them every time I return home to Indiana.

We stayed close throughout the next year and into college. While we were both attending community college in our hometown, I went on lunch dates with Nick often. Like many kids of that age, we did a lot of stupid things. We never considered the consequences of our action and we did whatever we wanted. We drank far more than was advisable and drove when we really never should have. We were on top of the world. We had a mentality that I assume some around here still retain. Sure, we were driving under the influence of far too much booze, but we were in the middle of nowhere with few other vehicles on the road, so it was fine. Of course, driving under the influence in a more populated area would not be wise, but we didn't need to worry. Cruising around in a pickup truck with a case of beer in the back and the promise that the driver would stay "more" sober than the rest of us was common practice.

One night, in June 2007 Nick left a wedding reception in his truck. He was much too intoxicated to be driving. I've heard the people there told him not to drive, but I have no idea if this is true. He was driving recklessly on a country road and lost control. He was not wearing a seatbelt and went through the windshield. His passenger, who was wearing a seatbelt, was completely unscathed.

The phone call I got that night changed my outlook on life forever. It's painstakingly difficult for a seemingly invincible 19-year-old to process the death of a close friend. It's devastating that this had to happen to teach myself and my friends a hard lesson.

Everyone feels untouchable when they've had a few too many. Many decide to drive and think: it's not that far, I'll just focus and be fine. Going into the festivities this weekend I ask you all to remember that inconveniencing a friend for a ride and leaving your vehicle behind for the night is worth your life. Many of you have driven when you knew you shouldn't. There are other ways to get home safely. So if you're considering driving after swimming your way through a keg this weekend, remember all the people that love you and need you in their lives.

Many of my friends back home are now married with children. We will never know what Nick's future would have been. His poor decisions when he was a fun loving 19-year-old robbed himself, his family and his friends of everything his future could have been.


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