If you have been paying attention, you should know that one writer I admire is a man named Fred Reed (there should be a link to his site here somewhere). Fred wrote for more than one nationally prominent publication in the U. S. before retiring to Mexico, where he still writes about whatever he wants to write. He is my ideal of a curmudgeon, and he could probably say all of the following much better than I, but he's got other fish to fry, so I'm going to tackle this one, with a salute to Fred, nonetheless. I should also note that the below has already appeared just this date on the website, Top 10 Costa Rica (http://www.top10costarica.com/), in a different form.
Some of you may remember an incident last year, near Playa Flamingo, when a 14 year old American girl, on vacation with her family, went over a cliff on an ATV, and died, tragically. Now, it should be noted that – as far as we know - this family had no previous history of ATV use in the U.S. (like, maybe driving lessons, or safety instructions). We also know that the family had already been in Costa Rica long enough to have found their way to whatever hotel they were using, and long enough to have booked a tour that involved riding ATV's on bad and/or nonexistent roads (hell, these were ATV's), and certainly long enough to be aware that there are no controls or regulations in place to help ensure user safety. Yet they felt it was OK to allow their 14 year old daughter, who had never ridden on an ATV, let alone driven one, to participate in this wild ride through the jungle. They even had two 6 year olds and one 7 year old along.
As I said, this was a tragic event. But, the tragedy has been compounded, first because the mother of this child immediately was quoted in the news indicating that she was seeking someone else (other than herself) to blame for this occurrence. The above news report tells how she is still actively seeking others to blame for what (imho) was her responsibility – the safety of her child. ABC News, in the person of "Brian Ross Investigates" carried an interview with her this last Friday, and a new AMCostaRica report describes all of this for us (see page three of today's edition online).
Personally, I am so tired of this American attitude of never accepting responsibility for our own actions. When did this start? Where did it come from? Why do we put up with it? And, what is wrong with our so-called media (ABC News, I'm talking to you) that they would dignify such goings-on by giving these people a platform?
I'm sorry for her loss, but it is NOT my government's responsibility to intercede for her with Costa Rica, nor is it the U. S. government's place to dictate to another country in situations such as this. Worse, why is it acceptable to use information about an incident in Costa Rica in a blatant attempt to influence U. S. lawmakers, and the citizenry in general, regarding ATV safety. For this lady's information, ATV use has been common for many, many years, and many changes have already been made industry wide, on an international basis, in an effort to make these things as safe as they can be. What's more, it is common knowledge that inexperienced persons should not operate any kind of machinery, let alone be allowed to drive such a machine. And, ultimately, it is the parent's responsibility to provide the necessary training, whether it be driver education, safety course, or whatever. Or, in the absence of such training and preparation, it is the parent's responsibility to deny the child the opportunity to participate in such an event as a wild jungle ride, in a foreign country, over unfamiliar terrain.
That means it is not mine. Not yours. Not the government's (why do people keep forgetting who the government really is?). Not the Tour Operator's. Not ABC News. And, definitely, not Brian Ross'!
Now, let me be blunt, and say this: Lady, you really need to get over it! Sure, you can reach out and try to teach people (maybe people like you were; who didn't want to be bothered, didn't see the need, didn't know better, whatever) to do better. But, do it from a position where you acknowledge your own part in this event, and accept your own responsibility for it. I bet you would be much more effective speaking as a mother who may have had a momentary lapse of judgment, than you do as a shrill voice of blame, one that sounds like they are desperately seeking to avoid responsibility.
About ATV's: Granted, these were first introduced as recreational vehicles, for fun, or sport. But, what they are, if we are going to be honest about them, is best left for experienced users, and their ideal role should be for them to be used as working tools. They are great for hauling loads on the farm or ranch, and for getting around in rugged terrain, while performing some sort of work. They are not practical for fun, because they are, quite frankly, too powerful, and it is too easy for someone lacking experience (and common sense) to lose control of them, and flip them, or drive them – at great speed – right off the road (like over a cliff). So, how could this mother, who called herself (last year, on AMCostaRica) "an extremely responsible mother," also say that "….had I thought there was serious risk of danger I would have never permitted my family to participate in this tour"? Does she wish us to believe that she was so completely unaware of the very existence of ATV's to the point that she did not know that they are not for beginners?
She went on to say that "We were never warned of any dangers, never signed a waiver, and the owner of the tour knew we had two 6 year olds and a 7 year old with us." And, I say, so what? Where did she think she was? The owner of the tour knew she had three kids along who were younger than the 14 year old? So what? Didn't she know that, too? Does she mean to tell us that she also allowed those three younger kids to participate in this tour? What the hell was she thinking? And, why is it now everybody else's fault?
Seems to me that if she was not asked to sign a waiver, nor was she warned of any possible danger, that should only have served to remind her to be extra vigilant of the welfare of her kids. You want to take this tour as a family? Then, remind the kids to stick together, and make sure you bring up the rear, just as you would when walking through the zoo, or strolling in the park, as a group. How else do we watch over our kids, if not from behind. If one kid lags, then we should be lagging, too, right? Isn't this what she was already doing, since she was escorting an apparently large family on a trip to a foreign country? Now, because she had a lapse of judgment, or whatever reason, she gets to spend the rest of her life bad mouthing Costa Rica, and everyone associated with her trip. And, her other children are likely scarred for life by the event. This whole thing stinks, and blaming anyone is not helping one iota.