Thursday, Mar 22, 2018
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Tougher curfews to save lives

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    Pedro Salinas, 13, cries as he rests his head on the table before being arraigned on the charge of murder Wednesday at Lucas County Juvenile Court in downtown Toledo.

    The Blade/Katie Rausch
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  • byrd27-17

    Demetrius Wimberly, 14, center, is comforted as he is arraigned on the charge of murder Wednesday at Lucas County Juvenile Court in downtown Toledo.

    The Blade/Katie Rausch
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The 911 call from Marquise Byrd’s friend is chilling. The woman sounds panicked and does not even understand that a sandbag had hit her windshield, injuring her passenger.

“I don’t know what happened! My friend! I don’t know what happened! He’s not moving!”

She literally did not know what hit them.

“Something hit my car! It hit my friend and he is not moving!”

BEHIND THE EDITORIAL: Curfew, ODOT changes should come after sandbag death
Click here to view more Blade editorials | Check out our Behind The Editorial series

Four Toledo teens stand accused of murder for throwing the sandbag off the Indiana Avenue bridge over I-75 that hit the woman’s car as she drove south through the city.

Her friend, a 22-year-old father of one who was engaged to be married, lay mortally wounded in her car while she pleaded with dispatchers to find her pulled off the side of the interstate.

He died three days later at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center.

The accused — Pedro Salinas, 13; Sean Carter, 14; Demetrius Wimberly, 14; and William Parker, 15 — are charged in juvenile court with murder and vehicular vandalism.

Police say the teens were throwing objects off the overpass about 10 p.m. and were seen running from the area after the sandbag struck Mr. Byrd.

The Ohio Department of Transportation usually installs fences at least 6 feet tall on overpasses to discourage these kinds of incidents, but the fence at the Indiana Street overpass is being rebuilt, so some of its fencing was missing that night.

Common sense says that 13, 14, and 15-year-olds should not be out and unsupervised at that hour. It is time for Toledo to take the common sense step of making it illegal for teens to be running the streets at night.

Toledo does have a curfew for teens, but the boys accused in this case were not in violation of it. In Toledo, children 10 and younger must be home by 10 p.m.; anyone 11 to 15 must be off the streets by 11 p.m., and those 16 or 17 must be in by 12 a.m. Violating curfew is a misdemeanor charge.

This incident alone makes a good case for setting a curfew of 10 p.m. for anyone younger than 16.

Boys who amuse themselves by dropping sandbags from an overpass onto interstate traffic passing below are not the kind of boys who probably care much about curfews. But that is exactly the point of having a curfew written into municipal code. If the culprits in this tragedy had not found sandbags to drop from an overpass, they likely would have found some other trouble to get into.

A stricter curfew ordinance would give Toledo police another tool for intervening when they see groups of teenagers out alone at night. If an officer had had a reason to stop these four, check their ages, and send them home for the night, tragedy could have been averted.

Mr. Byrd could be home in Warren, Mich., with his family, and these four teens would not be facing consequences that could ruin the rest of their lives.

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