by Laura Caldwell
I consider the Sunday New York Times one of life’s greatest pleasures. So I was thrilled when I saw that Long Beach, Indiana, a place of hidden beauty, a place I consider a home, was featured in the Chicagoland section on July 17, 2011. But then I saw what the article was about—the 4th of July tragedy.
Two good guys (that’s the opinion from everyone who’s spoken about them) were on the beach. Some arguments were had. One good kid threw a punch. The other good kid died. I’m over-simplifying here, (to read the piece click here) but that’s the upshot and the agony of the situation.
A few years ago, when I was working on a murder case at 26th and Cal, many were surprised that my client was accused of throwing only two punches. But two punches that contribute to someone’s death is murder in the eyes of the law. As my co-counsel told the jury, “If you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound.”
It was in Long Beach, Indiana I wrote most of my book about that trial—Long Way Home: A Young Man Lost in the System and the Two Women Who Found Him. It’s Long Beach that has held me in its dunes and beaches while I wrote most of my twelve books.
The excruciating side of ‘in-for-a-penny’ rule is, as seen in Long Beach, there’s loss all the way around. Clearly, there’s the loss to one family already and now another has their son charged with involuntary manslaughter rolling the dice in the legal system. (My deepest and most sincere sympathies to both families).
So what are we to do with this? Is there anything we can take from such situations? Perhaps it is at least the reminder of the constant fragility of life even in the most idyllic of places. We have to remind ourselves to take the utmost care in day-to-day life—wherever we are—and we have to tell that to our kids, our students, our nieces and nephews. The shame is that this reminder comes in the shadow of such heartbreak for so many.