‘Celebrate we will, for life is short but sweet for certain’

As another semester here at the beautiful University of Miami draws to a close, the student body once again is all thinking about the same thing. Only this time it isn’t the happy arrival of Ray Lewis’ Heir Apparent (though thinking about Willie and the defense next season does bring a smile to my face), or the opportunity to see Chris Matthews, James Carville and Ralph Nader walking around campus. No, now we are faced with tragedy, and this is one of the times when it is truly not fair.

I write this on Wednesday morning. I went downstairs to the Stanford lobby today to head to my advising appointment in the Comm school. When I got there, any hope that yesterday was a dream was shredded. Flowers, for Ashley and Andrea. A markerboard, asking for pictures, poems, anything to remember Ashley Kelly. When I look to my friends and girlfriend, many of whom went to high school with Ashley, all we can do is exchange feeble smiles and try to fight back tears.

The most horrible thing about this accident is that it truly was an accident, a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Alcohol has been ruled out as a contributor. Ashley and Andrea weren’t playing chicken with Miami traffic. For that matter, they weren’t even jaywalking, apparently. The cause of Ashley’s death is something we all complain about every day, but never do anything about: crazy Miami drivers and traffic lights that must have been designed by an impatient 3-year-old.

If there’s anything ironic at all about this truly awful incident, it’s that the University community first got word of it on the day of the Coral Gables elections. Thank you, commissioners, for finally allowing President Shalala to break ground on the University Village. But how about protecting those same students who one day hope to live there? It’s always scary to run across Ponce to get to the Metro on the way to the Orange Bowl. It’s horrifying just trying to make a left turn from U.S. 1 onto Red. And this is not the first time the stretch of U.S. 1 in front of UM has claimed a life. Commissioners, please don’t let this happen again.

But that doesn’t help those who knew Ashley. I’m going to miss the girl I went to Gainesville with last year. A packed car, Ashley sleeping in the back, all going to see Dave Matthews in the hope of voting for change. I’m going to miss just seeing her walking to and from class, in and out of Stanford, wearing that backpack painted with an acrylic sunset. I know my thoughts will be with Ashley and her family and friends, and also with her roommate Andrea, who was with her and luckily escaped. I also know I never want to feel this way again just because of a dangerous intersection. See you at the beach, Ashley.

Patrick Gibbons can be contacted at p.gibbons@umiami.edu.