We had a real tragedy here in East Hampton last weekend. Not 200 yds from my house, on busy Montauk Highway, a 14-year-old girl was killed riding her bike. I have no idea where the fault lies and in fact, it could lie in more than one place - such is the nature of accidents - but I do know this: when a child dies in a small community like East Hampton it is a tragedy for all of us. Because we all consider the children here to belong to all of us. We all watch them as they grow, we follow their lives in the newspapers as they triumph in sports or theater, we rejoice in their scholastic achievements, and we are all proud of the adults that come from this place we love. A loss is huge to all of us. All of East Hampton was a comber community over this weekend.
I did not know this girl personally. But she was a student of my son-in-law, her brother was a student of my daughter-in-law, I had my photograph taken once by her father, and the common threads of a community were clearly defined as lives touched those who touched hers. It was a grief we all felt. It is a loss for each of us. And for the community as a whole it is unspeakable.
It is a rare thing here to lose a child. I remember each one who has been taken from us over the years since I have been an adult: one hit by a car in Springs, one who died of Reyes Syndrome in elementary school before the connection to that disease and aspirin was known, one who died in an accident while her family was vacationing out of town one summer. Each was a promise unfulfilled and each a sad chapter in our history here in East Hampton.
In honor of this latest young life I pray that we won't see it happen again for a very long time - if ever.