WALLINGTON, N.J. -- A Facebook post by a Woodcliff Lake teenager who police said was drunk when his van was involved in a motorcycle crash on the Garden State Parkway that killed a Wallington firefighter last weekend stirred intense, painful emotions among many.
One of them, Joanne Eckert, put those feelings into words in a post of her own:
"Young man, you have much to think about. A day or two ago, I read yet another article about the ongoing investigation around the accident you caused last weekend. The accident that took the life of Wallington firefighter, Frank Stetz.
"You were quoted as writing, 'Everything is going to be alright...somehow I will get through this difficult time in my life...' on your Facebook page just 18 hours after the accident happened.
"No. Everything will NOT be alright. Everything will NEVER be alright, EVER again ~ in your life, the lives of your family & friends, Frank's mother & father's lives, his siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins lives, his 'brothers' in the Wallington Fire Department's lives, his dear childhood friends' lives, the people of the small, close-knit blue collar town of Wallington's lives, his biker friends' lives, the lives of many, many friends & acquaintances his life intersected with.
"This will never go away, it will never be erased from your memory or from those who knew him. Things will not be 'normal' again. The course of an expected history has been changed.
"Your irresponsible actions, from the decision to drink alcohol & get behind the wheel of a vehicle, to recklessly driving on a heavily traveled highway (yes, reckless driving includes driving so slow or stopping in the center lane of a highway where the speed limit is well above 10 miles an hour), to writing a flippant, egregiously insensitive remark in social media tell me, actually, everyone in the worldwide web, just how much thinking you really need to do.
"You are young. You will have your whole lifetime ahead of you to think about this.
"See, that's the interesting thing about the human mind & our capacity to think & reason, to experience & recall memories of the events of our lives. Stuff gets in there & never really gets out completely.
"So I hope you will use your time to think about what you've done, how much you've selfishly taken from so many others & how very wrong it was of you to publicly share such insensitive words.
"Maybe 'I'm terribly sorry, Frank Stetz' would've been a better starting point on the road you must travel the rest of your life, the life of a young man whose irresponsible actions killed a warm & wonderful man."
Eckert, who was friends with Stetz, grew up in East Rutherford and is the lead singer in Slip Shot, which often performs at motorcycle events.
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