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Waynesboro judge sends proper message to adults

October 26, 2000

October 26, 2000

Waynesboro judge sends proper message to adults



A Waynesboro, Pa. judge's decision to give a six-month sentence to a man who furnished alcohol to a teenager who died as a result sends the right message to anyone who might believe the practice is harmless. Too many youths are getting intoxicating beverages with adults' help.

Richard A. Gossert was given the six-month term and a year's probation as the result of an incident last Nov. 14, in which he furnished grain alcohol to two teen-agers, including 16-year-old Seth Warford.

Warford was killed after he was run over by a car in Waynesboro, near the intersection of South Potomac and Fourth streets. The youth was lying in the northbound lane of South Potomac Street, where he was observed by a southbound driver, who stopped his car and tried to wave off approaching traffic.

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That effort was unsuccessful, however, and the youth died from a head injury after being struck by two cars.

At the time of his death, the youth's blood-alcohol reading was 0.21, more than twice the legal limit for intoxication in Pennsylvania. He had imbibed grain alcohol, a particularly potent form of alcohol.

Some parents or other adults mistakenly believe that it does no harm to give an underage drinker a beer or two, with some parents rationalizing that "if they do it at home, they won't do it anywhere else."

But that logic is flawed, for a couple of reasons. The first is that once a parent has given a child permission to do something at home, it's more likely the child will do the same thing somewhere else. And how do these children view their parents when adults condone illegal activity?

We urge all adults who might be tempted to buy alcohol for a minor to consider these statistiscs from Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. In 1997, 21 percent of youths involved in fatal car crashes had been drinking. That's an average of eight young people per day, or on a typical weekend, one child per hour.

That's a terrible price to pay for the mistake of furnishing alcohol to an underage youth. Saying "no" to such illegal activity may allow the next Seth Warford to grow old enough to know better.

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