TEXAS VIEW: Teen’s death sends a warning to all East Texas young people

By Longview News-Journal

We can’t say what prompted a Hallsville teen to step onto the running board of his truck while it was in motion on a county road east of Marshall.

Maybe he had successfully done it before and wanted to show off the trick for his buddy who was in the truck.

Maybe they had seen an online video of someone else performing the silly stunt and decided to give it a go.

Whatever the cause, it ended in tragedy when 18-year-old Wyatt Edwards lost his footing and tumbled off the running board, suffering a fatal blow to his head as he fell to the roadway. He was declared dead at the scene.

By all accounts Wyatt was a fine young man. That became clear to us as he was remembered by his classmates, teachers and others as a valued and trustworthy friend, a skilled hunting and fishing companion, a good student with a dazzling smile and a fine sense of humor.

What a tragic loss for his family, his friends and our community.

If Wyatt’s death is to have any meaning, it must be in the warning it sends to other teenagers: You are not invincible, you are not stunt drivers, and being safe is more important than impressing your friends.

So we have been pleased as the community mourns his loss to hear some saying that, indeed, is the message being received.

As his friends met one recent afternoon to remember him, Anthony Alicea told us Wyatt’s death was a “sad lesson.”

“It’s crazy that someone that close is gone all of a sudden,” he said. “I believe it’s going to stop a lot of people from doing crazy stuff like that. It shouldn’t have taken him this young.”

We agree on all counts, Anthony, and hope you are right. Stopping others from “doing crazy stuff” would be a good outcome, one that could save lives. We hope the lesson is heard and heeded.

It is a timely one, too, as the spring semester begins.

Just about every spring, as area high school seniors celebrate the end of their days in the classroom, jubilation often outruns judgment and the ensuing tragedies take promising young lives.

We pray Wyatt’s death will be a reminder to all young people in East Texas to stop and think about the dangers before taking risks. That may mean refusing to get behind the wheel if the celebration included alcohol, understanding that vehicles are not toys, or saying no to a dare to try something you know is a bad idea.

Let’s learn the lesson Wyatt is teaching us and have a safer spring in East Texas.