To anyone on the lake overhearing these conversations, the subject matter must have been funny, disgusting, or at least odd. But we saw and heard other people, also fishing, also on cell phones. Iit made us laugh and shake our heads. At our old family cabin, we had no phone at all...no way to call in or out in case of emergency. Now we're up-to-the-minute even in the wilderness.
Non-news. Five days into our vacation we had a meal out, at a bar and restaurant where the TV was tuned to ESPN. After five days without news, the one story we heard was: Bret Favre still isn't saying whether he will play for the Minnesota Vikings this year.They repeated this every 10 minutes, as if it meant something.
Good news. Once we emptied our suitcases and put away all the stuff we hauled north, we took a quick look at a few of the newspapers on the kitchen table. One headline jumped out: "A FREE MAN." Beneath, a photo of Koua Fong Lee. Whatever else happened in the world last week (and I haven't yet really caught up), this is wonderful news for me. Koua Fong Lee is a 32-year-old father of four who was serving an eight-year prison sentence for vehicular homicide. Driving his family home from church in a Toyota a few years ago, he came up a freeway ramp and began shouting that the brakes would not work. The car accelerated, striking that of a family stopped for a light; people in that car were badly injured and three died. Lee always maintained that he had been pounding on the brakes, and his family witnessed this, but his attorney decided it would be more persuasive to say he must have mistakenly stepped on the accelerator. Lee was found guilty and sent to prison two years and seven months ago. .
|AP Photo/Pioneer Press, Ben Garvin|
Future news. There is much to be learned. The case is likely to influence similar accident cases around the country. Meanwhile there are big questions about some actions of the county attorney's office, and about the trial that found Koua Fong Lee guilty despite lack of evidence. There are untold stories--still developing--of the families directly affected by the accident (the family of those killed in the accident supported Lee's request for a new trial, by the way). I hope good people will investigate and report on all aspects of this case, so our community can learn the necessary lessons. But meanwhile I celebrate that a man I never met is at home with his family tonight.