The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Robin L. Quillon

June 12, 2011

ROBIN L. QUILLON | From tragic Richland accident comes lesson in forgiveness

— This past week we reported that Cambria County Judge Timothy Creany had sentenced 23-year-old Edward Richards to two years in prison for driving while drunk and fleeing the scene after hitting and killing 19-year-old Sean Grant as he was walking on Scalp Avenue in Richland Township.

Twenty-year-old Crystal Sturtz, Richards’ pregnant girlfriend, who was a passenger in the car and helped Richards cover up the crime, was sentenced to probation for two years.

To be sure, this was a terrible, life-altering lapse in judgment by these two young adults. One can only hope that they will learn from this tragedy.

Unfortunately, they will have to live with their crimes for the rest of their lives.

No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. After Richards and Sturtz pay their debts to society, I certainly hope they can assemble the broken pieces of their lives and find peace and happiness.

It is never too late.

I suppose the average grief-stricken person who has suffered the loss of a child or loved one, especially due to the senseless stupidity of another, would certainly be justified in storming the courthouse and demanding that the judge administer the absolute harshest penalty – an eye for an eye, if you will. 

But that did not happen in this case. Far from it.

Melody Grant, mother of the victim, and Holly Lees, Sean’s grandmother, both pleaded with Judge Creany for leniency for the young couple.

They sought leniency because Sturtz is pregnant and Melody Grant did not want to see the couple suffer by being separated from their child, as she had experienced with the loss of her son.

Judge Creany was surprised by the request, noting that it obviously shows forgiveness.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

To Melody Grant and Holly Lees, I say you both have shown society what it means to be strong.

The truth is, all of us at one time or another haul around the burden of withholding forgiveness from another, for whatever reason.

And in doing so, we shackle ourselves to the offender forever, unless we are willing to let go and forgive.

It has been said that true forgiveness cannot be conditional – letting go of it all is the key to regaining our balance.

May I suggest if you harbor ill feelings toward another, take the example of Melody and Holly to heart and find a way to forgive.

In doing so, we shall, as someone once said, “... set the prisoner free only to discover the prisoner was us.”

Robin L. Quillon is the publisher of The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at rquillon@tribdem.com.

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