Unity, not choosing sides, needed following verdict in Isaacson crash case

It was over a year ago that Blake Isaacson recklessly crashed his car in Blue Springs, which resulted in the death of then sophomore Macie Rice. Last week, Isaacson stood trial and received a four-year prison sentence for his crime.

As a student at Blue Springs South High School, where both Isaacson and Rice formerly attended school, I have seen the deep wounds of the past reopen as a result of the recent trial. Conversation about the deadly crash has been revamped, but the tone surrounding the accident has changed.

Somewhere between that fatal night and the trial, sadness was replaced by hostility, pain morphed into anger, and tragedy turned to resentment.

At school, students talk about which "side" they are on as if there are winners in the midst of such grievous circumstances. False and overdramatized rumors spread through the hallways as some students attempt to undermine "the other side."

Even more so than at school, the division was intensely evident at last week's trial. Many current and former Blue Springs South students filled the courtroom to witness Isaacson's fate. Some nervously hoped for a lenient sentence, while others preferred the opposite.

Many who attended the trial expressed their hope that closure would be found through Isaacson's punishment. Students and others close to the situation made remarks after the sentencing such as, "Maybe now we can move on," "Hopefully we can start our healing process," and "Finally we can find some peace."

Makahiil Mohammed, a longtime friend of Isaacson's who also attended the trial, offered a different perspective. He first said that "Blake did commit a crime" and received an "appropriate" punishment. But he also reminded us, as someone who has known Isaacson since childhood, that "he's a good kid."

Mohammed's words show that perhaps in all of this animosity and side-taking we have missed the point.

It is true that Isaacson committed a crime, and his punishment is in no way unjust. But let us not pretend that as a result of his sentence the tragedy has been resolved. In reality, it only continues. Because as the vast majority of high school graduates move on to college, the 19-year-old Blake Isaacson is going to prison. And so, I ask, where is the closure in that?

When someone like Macie Rice dies at such a young age, everybody loses. So let's stop looking for victory over "the other side" because there is none to be had. The situation is devastating all the way around, but if we continue down this road of bitter division, wounds will only fester and deepen. For the students of Blue Springs South, the citizens of the greater community, and all those close to the situation, healing will require a greater sense of unity. Plenty of suffering has gone around, now it is time to rally together in attempts to overcome such great a loss.

Addison Graham, Blue Springs