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The Observer Paper 12/17/14

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Colorado's justice system works in mysterious ways. Following the traffic accident in western Colorado June 21 that claimed the lives of five contract firefighters, authorities charged Megan Helm, the 21-year old driver from La Grande, with several counts of negligence.

QUICK TO MAKE an example of this young woman, who is still grieving this horrific experience, we wonder why Colorado officials didn't wait a while to make sure all the evidence had been collected before deciding to lay blame at someone's feet.

This same justice system took much longer to first find and then charge a U.S. Forest Service employee, Terry Barton, with setting the state's largest fire. This is the very fire that the Grayback Inc. contract firefighters were heading to from La Grande when the tragic accident occurred.

Why haven't Colorado's quick-action justice officials charged Barton with at least manslaughter in the deaths of these five firefighters? None of them would have been headed to Colorado if it had not been for Barton's alleged decision to start the fire.

OFTEN TIMES justice officials are ready to quell the clamor of people who are angry because an apparent crime has occurred and the people want someone's blood. In the case of Megan Helm, her decision to reach for something to nibble on is a common occurrence among drivers.

For one example, earlier this week a local police officer driving a Jeep Cherokee was seen holding a piece of paper in each hand while rushing down a hill. Had the vehicle veered out of control, that officer would have had a lot of explaining to do.

And recently a fire truck was speeding across Portland's Burnside Bridge with lights flashing and sirens wailing when the driver headed into the oncoming traffic lane instead of taking the far right lane that appeared to be free of traffic.

THE RESULT was that several oncoming cars trying to get out of the way ended up smashing into one another resulting in the fire truck having to stop and provide aid to those injured.

Driving is a serious endeavor but oftentimes it can be such a routine that we forget the potential deadly force we are using when we are behind the wheel.

There is no way that any of the individuals in the above mentioned examples were trying to create a problem for either themselves or those around them.

So why should a young woman from La Grande suddenly become the focus of Colorado law enforcement rage? We suggest that authorities focus their attention on the person who started the fire that indirectly ended up costing the lives of five firefighters from Oregon and Idaho.


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