An 18-year-old who was caught driving way over the speed limit in Ohio received more than the usual reprimand from the police officer who pulled them over.
The police officer remains anonymous, but a now-viral post on the North Ridgeville Police Department’s Facebook page shared a photo of the speeding ticket; the reckless teen was driving at 100 miles per hour. The speed limit on the road where they were caught was 65.
The unusual thing about the post, however, wasn’t the photo but the emotional open letter that accompanied it. At once a plea to the teen to rethink their actions and a sober warning to young drivers everywhere, the message of the officer’s letter spread like wildfire.
“To the 18-year-old kid I stopped on SR 10,” the letter begins, “You’re welcome.”
“You said you didn’t realize how fast you were going. That’s a lie,” the officer continued. “You were scared when I stopped you … Unfortunately, you were scared one minute too late and for the wrong reason. You should have been scared that you were trying to kill yourself.”
The tone of the letter oscillates gently between reprimand and guidance, but the officer’s unyielding message reads loud and clear: slow down; you are not invincible.
“I know that you can’t even fathom your own death,” the poignant letter goes on. “I can tell you dozens of stories of dead and broken 18-year-old bodies that I’ve pulled from cars … Unrecognizable bodies. They thought they were invincible, too. They weren’t.”
It’s not just the driver whose life is at risk, the letter explained, lending a little perspective. “Sometimes you’re the innocent person hit by someone with no regard for anyone else,” it reads, “and sometimes you’re the one with no regard for anyone else.”
“Today you were the latter.”
To the 18 year old kid I stopped on SR 10,You’re welcome. I’d like to believe that you were minutes away from creating…
Among the readers of the powerful message were parents of teenage drivers, some of whom had lost their teens to tragic car accidents resulting from pushing the speed limit. The officer’s message, for all parents, rang loud and clear.
“As a mom of a 17-year-old boy, I just bawled,” one mother wrote. “It is terrifying letting them go out in the world, hoping you taught them consequence and responsibility. You did a good deed. I’m sure the parents are thankful.”
Whether parents or not, other readers were also moved by the letter and grateful to the unnamed officer for putting the message out there. It exists as an example to other drivers who might be tempted to flout the law. “This post was very touching,” wrote one reader. “The love in every sentence shows how dedicated and caring this officer is.”
The police officer finished the heartfelt open letter by explaining that even good kids do terrible things, but that the lesson learned should be a lesson for life. “You seemed like a really nice kid who made a bad decision,” they concluded. “I don’t feel bad about this ticket at all … I hope you’re paying it off for months and with every payment, you think about how it wasn’t worth it.”
If this incredible letter has anything to do with it, one 18-year-old driver’s life is truly changed forever. A letter penned from the heart, from the same person who issued a hefty speeding ticket, proves that love comes in all shapes and guises.
None of us are invincible. Drive safely.