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Teen Drives Van Into Teenage Crowd: How Can We Prevent Senseless Tragedy?

This case arose from a pre-arranged fight between teenage groups. Around 100 teens gathered in a parking lot to watch. Police arrived to name calling and yelling; no blows had been exchanged. Things appeared to be under control.

Then, someone three a cigarette lighter at one teen’s mini-van. The youth turned the van around, peeled rubber, and drove straight into the crowd, striking and dragging three teenage girls and one teenage boy before speeding away. He was later apprehended and is being held, without bail, on four counts of attempted murder.

The girls suffered traumatic head injuries, internal injuries, and broken bones; one girl has a broken leg and pelvis. All have been released from the hospital, but they will have a long road to recovery. The boy received only minor injuries.

The offending teen has plead not guilty. He has a history of violent outbursts and has been hospitalized three times for past violent acts. Allegedly, he has been receiving regular psychiatric treatment, although he has not been to an appointment in the last few weeks and has not been taking his prescribed medication. Fortunately, there were no fatalities in this incident, but many teens and their families have been affected. Although the injured victims are expected to make full recovery, they may need ongoing medical treatment; there families incurring substantial medical bills.

Traumatic brain injuries can have lasting affects that do not surface initially. A hundred teens will remember this incident the rest of their lives all because of a fight over a girl; this was an avoidable tragedy. Why do 100 teenagers feel compelled to watch violence beget violence? Why wasn’t a mentally troubled kid being monitored better? Why throw a hard cigarette lighter at a moving vehicle? How can an event like this be so public to teens without any knowledge to the adult or school administration community? This is not the first event of its kind; teens have been “settling scores” with fights after school for years. Has social networking, Facebook, or texting exasperated the problem? Kids love an audience of their peers; the larger the crowd the greater risk that the situation will spiral out of control. As the size of the audience increases, so too does the danger risk.

Parents: What prevents you from knowing where and with whom your kids are hanging and what they are doing? We must become more proactive, more connected; we must re-take some control. Support your school; empower the administration to make decisions and take action to protect your children. If you believe a student is at risk of danger, it is important to notify the school.

Lawsuit Financial, the pro-justice lawsuit funding company, wishes these tragic victims and their families well. We hope that this troubled youth gets the help he needs; he will certainly not find it behind the walls of an adult prison.