Tragedy hit close to home over the weekend — countless lives were shattered when an alleged drunk driver slammed into a limousine carrying a group of eight young women, killing four who hailed from our own North Shore communities.
Saturday’s Cutchogue crash captivated communities near and far. Those who knew the women, and even those who didn’t, mourned, as the crash sent shock waves across the Island.
Brittney Schulman, Lauren Baruch, Stephanie Belli and Amy Grabina were friends, daughters, girlfriends, sisters and young women just starting their adult lives. Tragic doesn’t even begin to explain what happened on that Cutchogue road.
But the women weren’t alone, and the surviving four women, who remain hospitalized as of Monday, need our support.
At a press conference on Monday, Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota told a crowd of reporters, many of whom came from affiliate stations and out-of-town papers, to be reasonable, in light of a recent incident in which a member of the press entered the hospital in an attempt to see one of the survivors.
“We have four who survived, who certainly have suffered horrible, horrible trauma,” Spota said. “Not only bodily trauma, but certainly mentally. And we have people — reporters — who are trying to sneak in to talk to these young women. I just think that we really should — let’s all think about it and let’s be reasonable here.”
We find these actions disrespectful to the victims and survivors and their families and do not stand behind them. As journalists, we understand the responsibility news organizations have to inform the public about events such as this, but sneaking into a hospital room is excessive, and it is not right to serve a readership at a victim’s expense.
As a community newspaper, we are protective of the neighborhoods we cover because we live here. When we get word of car crashes, many of us have to wonder if a loved one was involved. What happened on Saturday could have happened to any one of us.
To the women recovering, the families affected and the communities trying to come to terms with these losses, we will still be here to listen if and whenever you are ready to speak. Our thoughts are with you.