It is chilling to look at the Facebook pages of Evan Bard and Sean Jackman. There is no death on these pages, no winding road, no shattered car, no hint of what is to come.
It’s all about before. Two beautiful young people living their lives, posing with their families, their friends, and each other.
Now, Bard is dead and Jackman is being held on $500,000 bail, charged with drunken driving, vehicular homicide, speeding, and marked lanes violation.
And all those happy times and the people who shared them? Parents. Brothers. Sisters. Cousins? Friends?
Evan Bard was on the dean’s list at Curry College and studying to be a nurse. On May 26, she would have turned 21. There would have been more pictures of her smiling on Facebook.
Instead, her family has to bury her. “Our beautiful princess,” they called her in her obituary. Our “cherished daughter.”
I’ve written about drinking and driving for more than 30 years. I’ve railed at drivers, men and women with a history of drunk driving. I’ve refused to use the word “accident” because it isn’t an accident when someone drinks, then drives and kills. I have been intractable. You drink, you drive, you kill someone, you are a killer.
But I know Bolivar Street in Canton. I know the narrow curve where Jackman lost control.
Sean Jackman, 24, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, made a mistake after attending a wedding reception held at the Portugese National Club in Stoughton on May 11. He got in his car and drove, and whether it was speed or alcohol or both or neither, the result is the same. His friend, a woman he loved, is dead. And this is tragic.
Evan Bard made a mistake, too. She got in the passenger seat with Jackman.
I think about Evan Bard and about Sean Jackman. And I think about how you fall in love with your children the minute you see them and how this amazing new love springs up from nowhere and settles in you and fills you up but weighs you down, too, because right from the start you know that it’s dangerous to love this much.
And I think about the Bards burying their daughter, the finality of this. No one last kiss. No going back to before. And about the Jackmans, their world shattered, their hearts broken, too.
Weddings are happy occasions. They should not end with tears. People dance at weddings. And people drink. It’s legal. It’s fun. It’s part of the celebration. Raise your glass and toast the bride and groom.
But alcohol can trick you. A little makes you tipsy, but a little more and you feel just fine.
I wasn’t at that Stoughton wedding. But I’ve been to weddings. And when it gets late and everyone’s tired and it’s time to go home, sometimes you don’t know you’ve had too much to drink.
We lock our doors to prevent thieves from stealing our stuff. We don’t argue that alarms in our homes or in our cars are unnecessary.
So why don’t we insist that our overpriced cars that have automatic everything come equipped with a blood-alcohol monitor, too, because these are safety devices that would make it impossible for anyone over the legal limit to get behind the wheel and drive? Why not this failsafe? Why not this technological wonder that can protect people and save lives now?
Years ago, most Americans objected to seat belts. Most Americans were adamant about not wearing them. It took decades of persuasion and legislation to make seat belts mandatory. But seat belts save lives.
So would ignition interlocks. Maybe Evan Bard would still have died. Maybe it was speed or some other factor that caused her death. But every day, people drink and drive and kill and injure other people’s sons and daughters. Ignition interlocks would save them.