Drunk Kids: Where Are Parents?

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - August 30, 2006

The recent car crashes on Kamehameha Highway near Hauula that took four lives still have the community reeling. My initial reaction to the news that two youngsters died early in the morning was bad enough. But when I learned that two mourners were struck and killed by an automobile in the almost exact location about 18 hours later, it was disturbingly surreal. My first reaction was to empathize with the victims’ parents. This is not how life is supposed to be. Parents are not supposed to bury their children.

I was aghast to learn the driver of the first car, a 15-year-old boy, was drunk when he wrapped his “stolen” car around a utility pole. He not only lost his life, but he also took the life of a passenger in the car, a 16-year-old girl. The second crash was cruelly similar. While mourners were paying respects to the victims of the first accident, a speeding car slammed into the group, initially killing one and severely injuring three. One of the injured later died. Both victims were teenagers, too.

Pepe Nauputo was 15 years old and lived outside of Dallas. The car he was driving, with four passengers, was reported to be stolen, but the mother of the 16-year-old owner of the car is stating the car was not stolen. It just so happened her son left the keys in the ignition while meeting up with Nauputo and other friends. It just so happened Nauputo accidentally got behind the wheel of a car he did not own and accidentally turned on the ignition. He just so happened to accidentally put the car in drive and accidentally speed away. Hmmm. Car doesn’t belong to you, but you take it anyway. That’s not stealing. OK. I guess we’ll just refer to it as pro-active borrowing.

Of course it’s stealing! What the heck is a 15-year-old doing drunk anyway, let alone behind the wheel of a stolen car? His Hawaii family has no clue. Nauputo’s auntie is quoted as saying, “We didn’t know he was drinking.” But later on we learn he had been caught drinking once before and punished. So, there is a history of drinking by this 15-year-old boy. Authorities are questioning how a 15-year-old can get booze. Really? Have you all forgotten when you and your friends were younger?

Kids can get alcohol easily. They can get cigarettes, pot and just about any other drug. Having some drinks is nothing compared to other kids who smoke ice and snort coke. Teens get drinks from their parents’ liquor cabinet, refrigerator or not-so-secret hiding places. As long as there is some loser adult who needs to be validated by a youngster, there will be someone who will buy beer for a kid. The worst is the parent who has the attitude, “Well, I let Junior drink at home. He’s going to do it anyway, so I’d rather he do it here.” Nothing says, “Abdication of Parental Responsibility” like popping a couple of cold ones with your middle school son or daughter.

As if this story wasn’t bad enough, Nauputo and his friends were tooling around until 4:20 a.m.!

How many of you are out on the road with a buzz on at 4 in the morning? These kids are out partying until the next day. I can’t help but wonder what the parents and guardians were thinking. Did they truly not know where their children were? Nauputo’s dead passenger was a 16-year-old girl. Where was her father? Her mother? How can you sleep? What are your priorities, and where is your sense of responsibility?

I know this is a very emotional time. I know there will be some who do not agree with the timing of this message. But let’s get to the bottom line on this story. The parents and guardians of all the children involved in this crash are just as responsible as the drivers of the vehicles. There is no way these kids should be out drinking, driving, speeding and dying.

I hope every parent contemplates their own relationship with their children and will do all in their power to prevent such a profound tragedy from happening to their family.

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