Tuesday, April 24, 2006 Editorial • Memorial highway is a reminder for everyone

This past Saturday, April 22, Lassen County Road A-21 was dedicated to the memory of two Westwood teenagers.

The small stretch of the county road from Highway 36 to the railroad tracks on A-21 will now be known as the Daniel Lawrence and Ashley Flores Memorial Highway.

A sign dedicating the road to Daniel and Ashley was unveiled Saturday during an observance to remember the lives of the two teens, who were killed when a train struck their car as they traveled southbound on A-21 Wednesday, May 24, 2004. Their friend Tim Easton, a front-seat passenger received major injuries in the accident.

We agree with Lassen County Supervisor Jim Chapman that designating that part of the county road a memorial highway may alert drivers to the dangers of that portion of road.

According to the Lassen County Sheriff’s Department, the curve at the site of the new memorial section is an “S” curve where the road parallels the tracks on two sides. The crossing is equipped with flashing lights but no rail guards.

After the 2004 accident, Sheriff’s Commander Si Bollinger said he knows there were accidents at the site involving a road grader, three logging trucks and various trucks and automobiles.

Not all accidents involved a train and there have been no accidents at the scene since the fatal May 2004 day. However, we know that as time goes on, the memories of those not directly affected by events will fade and new people will drive the road. The sign will help those unaware of the tragedy to use caution. It will also help those who knew Daniel and Ashley keep their memory alive.

What we know about Daniel and Ashley has come from their family and friends and we express our sympathy that the only way we got to know these fine young people is through their tragic deaths.

Accidents happen every day but if a sign keeps others from getting hurt or dying, then we agree with the Lawrence and Flores families that the Westwood High School students’ deaths were not in vain.

It is also a good time to remind all drivers in Lassen County to drive carefully especially when weather is playing mind games with us.

And with high school senior proms coming up in the next few weeks, we also ask teenagers to use extra caution and drive safely and drug and alcohol free. Fortunately for the sake of Daniel and Ashley’s families their burden of grief does not include alcohol, drugs or recklessness.

Each prom season, nationwide some teenager thinks he or she can beat the odds and instead of family and friends attending graduation ceremonies, they attend a funeral.

What happened to Daniel and Ashley is a good reminder to all of us life is short and precious and it should be handled gently.

Our thoughts go out to the Lawrence and Flores families as they face the second anniversary of the deaths of two special people.