A sad news season filled with tragedies

1. Could anything more have been done to help our war veteran?

Sometimes the tragedies just seem to rain from the sky.

South County has been under that cloud this week as the Gilroy community deals with the aftermath of the tragic Iraqi war veteran who simply lost control and killed his mother, his 11-year-old sister and then turned the gun on himself. It took a week to find his mother’s body. Martha Gutierrez was left in the weeds in San Benito County.

It’s too awful to contemplate for long. But the question must be asked: Is there anything more that “the system” – that’s all of us, by the way – could have done to help the distressed young soldier, Abel “Hector” Gutierrez, who left Gilroy to serve his country?

The young energetic former bagger at Nob Hill Foods turned into a monster, haunted by death and destruction, in what is now a reverberating tragedy.

2. Former bagger at Nob Hill Foods haunted by death, destruction

Perhaps there can be changes in the way we respond to such obvious post traumatic stress syndrome symptoms that were displayed by the 27-year-old. Hopefully, serious thought will be given to that possibility as we learn more about his interaction with the Army, the police and his family.

There are no answers now, just as there are no answers in the early morning disappearance of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar, one minute merrily tweeting and texting while headed for the school bus stop in Morgan Hill, the next gone with only a slight trail of clues left behind – all cold to this point according to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department.

We hope, pray and wonder. Is she alive, safe and scared? We hope so, and hope she will shamefully contact authorities and sincerely utter her vast regrets.

The other possibility is horrible, a tragedy that rears its ugly head in our society and is played out across the voracious media spectrum. The media gives aid, of course, focusing people on finding Sierra, but it also reminds us that the unspeakable is still a possibility. And when the drama is unfolding close to home, the fear factor becomes far more intense.

3. Driver who hit car filled with students faces multiple charges

And still, there is more. The driver who hit the car carrying four Gavilan College students leading to the death of the effusive and popular Andrel Gaines, a 19-year-old Gilroy High graduate and Gavilan basketball player, faces manslaughter and other charges. The San Mateo County District Attorney’s office has accused him of drunken driving. There are strong hints, unconfirmed as of press time, that the charged driver, Dennis Leffew of San Jose,  has faced DUI charges before.

If true, that only compounds the tragedy. If true, only the maximum sentence under the law will suffice. And yet, that is hardly comfort for the many who miss and grieve over the loss of Andrel.

Sometimes there just aren’t any good answers, but only the hope for better days ahead.

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