Ladies and gentlemen, it was a normal Super Bowl Sunday. Folks were getting ready for the annual extravaganza, eating pizza, burgers, wings, consuming various types of beverages. Others were watching the always entertaining Puppy Bowl.

They were on social media debating how “evil” Tom Brady and the “cheating” New England Patriots are, how funny or crappy the commercials are, how good or bad the performances of performers Justin Timberlake and Pink would be and other fun and amusing topics of the day.

Then, not long before kickoff, news broke that Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson, 26, and his Uber driver were killed earlier Sunday on I-70 on the west side of Indy by a suspected drunken driver.

Later, it was reported that the suspected drunken driver was an illegal alien from Guatemala who has twice been deported from the United States of America. Manuel Orrego-Savala, 37, who had been deported in 2007 and 2009, reportedly gave officers a fake name when he was arrested following the fatal crash.

A TV news personality from a Columbus station posted a link to the updated story on one of his social media pages, writing, “New information on the Indianapolis Colts player who was killed.”

Almost immediately, some took issue with the TV news personality’s post. One told him to “please turn off Fox News” (even though the story was an Associated Press piece that was posted on the Columbus TV station’s website), and another guy said the longtime sports anchor should “take some responsibility” in his “social media posts as a public personality” and that the post was basically a “dog whistle.”

A dog whistle, the thing that emits sound in the ultrasonic range, which people cannot hear but some other animals can, including dogs and domestic cats? After scratching my head for a few minutes, I did an online search and found that “dog whistle politics” involve “coded racial appeals” to a “target audience.”

People countered that American citizens also get drunk and get behind the wheel and sometimes cause fatal accidents. One woman wrote on the sports anchor’s post, “Are you honestly saying that there aren’t American citizens who drive drunk every day putting other peoples (sic) lives in danger? Do you really believe that American citizens don’t kill other American citizens by driving drunk? No this man should not have been here. This man should not have been driving drunk. But it could have just as easily have been an American that did that. Don’t take this tragedy and turn it into a political ploy to degrade all illegal citizens.”

I suppose the moral to this bizarre message (that has been echoed by others) is that the media should not report that the man police arrested in connection to this fatal accident is an illegal alien who was deported twice (but is back yet again), a man who was intoxicated (Orrego-Savala’s blood-alcohol content was 0.239 percent, or nearly three times Indiana’s
legal limit of 0.08 percent) and driving without a license. Sure, let’s just sweep that “little” detail under the rug. Yes, it’s very true that if Manuel Orrego-Savala wasn’t in America, wasn’t in Indianapolis, didn’t get hammered and get behind the wheel, two men would most likely be very much alive today. But as a well-known former politician and candidate once quipped, at this point, what difference does it make?

Tell that to the family and friends of Edwin Jackson. Tell that to the family and friends of Jeffrey Monroe, the Uber driver who was killed on Sunday. It’s much easier to have that mindset when it hasn’t happened to your family or friends or happened in your hometown.

I’ve never seen this type of story make headlines in Hillsboro, Ohio, but I have seen an eerily similar incident occur in another ’Boro where I once lived, Goldsboro, N.C.

In November of 2005, two middle school students walking to school were struck crossing the road by a driver who had a history of driving without a license. Investigators said the two 13-year-old boys were crossing with the “walk” signal from the crosswalk sign when Luis Delgado Jesus allegedly ran a red light and hit them. Jesus, 23, was charged with careless and reckless driving, failing to stop at a red light and driving with expired tags.
Police also charged him with driving without a license.

Turns out, it wasn’t Jesus at the wheel. The man’s real name was Wilder Fidelmar Mejia Alvarado. It was later reported that Mejia Alvarado was a native of Guatemala and an illegal alien (sound familiar?). It was later reported that after he pleaded guilty to two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, he served two consecutive 75-day sentences and was released in April of 2006 from the county jail. He also was placed on 48 months of supervised probation and was scheduled to be deported that November. Until then, Mejia Alvarado was to “remain on electronic house arrest until Oct. 31. Then he will report on his own the next day to federal Immigration Court in Atlanta. District Attorney Branny Vickory said federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers will not pick him up. Instead, it will be left to him to get to Atlanta,” according to a May 2006 news report.

Yes, you read that correctly, folks. Please see that you get yourself to Atlanta for deportation, we’re not gonna do it.

So what happened to the two boys he struck? Both were critically injured and were rushed by ambulance to a local hospital, then stabilized and transferred to Pitt County Memorial Hospital in nearby Greenville. One of the boys was released in about a week. The other remained for a much longer time before returning home.

In 2006, I met the boy who suffered a traumatic brain injury and spent several months in a coma. He was in a wheelchair and could not speak. Today, now in his 20s, he is still in a wheelchair but can walk short distances. He has trouble speaking but uses sign language finger spelling. He can only barely move his left arm. His family says “he has other issues, but he has not let his physical disabilities stop him. He is an inspiration to many.”

Yes, he is an inspiration and has come a long way over a dozen years. But the fact remains that this should never have happened in the first place. I’m sure he, his family and friends all wish that the preventable tragedy that occurred on Nov. 18, 2005 had never happened.

Our commander in chief has often been chided on his position on illegal immigration and border security. But at least he’s trying to do something about the problem. The chiders might feel differently if it’s their husband, wife, son, daughter, mom, dad, brother, sister or friend who is in the wheelchair – or the casket.

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at roush_steve@msn.com.