Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sue Carlton: Sometimes, stupidity carries a hefty price

Like mine, maybe your youth contained some stupid.

I once jumped from the roof of a neighbor's house on a dare and promptly broke my arm. For fun, we used to push each other off a friend's two-story roof into her backyard pool, somehow miraculously avoiding concrete. Once, we toilet-papered a college official's house and would have gotten away with it, had one of us not dropped his picture ID at the scene. (Okay, so ours weren't the sharpest criminal minds.)

That last one is what you could call a prank: Dumb, largely harmless, meant to be funny. Even in a world that celebrates potentially damaging idiocy on shows like Jackass, a deliberate and dangerous act is not a prank.

What a contrast there is in the story of what happened to a teenager out for a run Sunday night on Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard. Here was a kid motivated to do 9 miles with his brother and buddies, a top cross-country runner at Robinson High, a young man with his sights set on the Marine Corps.

Then you had three other teenagers tooling around in an SUV, armed with a few dozen eggs and looking for a target. Police say they found one, that they felled 17-year-old Noah Grant, fracturing bone and seriously damaging his right eye. And maybe his Marine Corps plans along with it.

While he was on the ground, witnesses said the SUV circled back and someone hurled another egg. A "prank"?

An egg might seem a delicate and fragile thing, harmless as a whipped cream pie in the face, until one is hurled at you at great speed and you suddenly understand an egg can also be a missile.

Once my husband and I were sitting outside at a Hyde Park restaurant near where Grant was hit. Here came kids in a truck, an arm out the window. The egg hit our table and bounced up to catch my husband just next to his eye, cutting him slightly, so loud and violent I thought it was a gunshot. They were gone.

Ask people who regularly use Bayshore, a picturesque ribbon of concrete for walking, running, biking and skating through South Tampa along the water, more a linear park than a sidewalk. You will hear stories of beer can throwers, deliberate swervers, even paintball gunners and assorted other idiots. Eggshells are not an unfamiliar sight.

What was also striking about this story was Grant's grace afterward even with the fate of his eye uncertain, praising police for a fast arrest. "I couldn't be happier to know that Bayshore is safe again," he told the Times.

You hope the three arrestees — Patrick Wasp and Tyler Metzger, both 16, and Daniel Borgeson, 17 — had no real idea of the amount of damage stupid can do. I know plenty of Florida kids who threw grapefruit at cars for fun. How scary is that?

Years ago, a group of teenagers on an Interstate 75 overpass threw rocks at cars and finally a chunk of concrete that killed a woman driving below. She was a college professor. She had a life, a family. "I never thought about how (the drivers) would feel," one of the young men said before he was sentenced to life in prison.

You hope a kid who was just out for a run will heal and move on with his plans. And you hope three young men look back and see a turning point, a moment when they learned the real cost of stupid.

Sue Carlton: Sometimes, stupidity carries a hefty price 05/29/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 7:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. One of the best places for investing in a rental house is in Tampa Bay

    Real Estate

    Two Tampa Bay ZIP Codes are drawing national attention.

    . If you're looking to invest in a house to rent out, few places are better than  ZIP Code 34607 in Hernando County's Spring Hill area, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.
 file photo]

  2. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'


    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  3. Suspect in Maryland office park shooting is apprehended


    EDGEWOOD, Md. — A man with a lengthy criminal past who was fired from a job earlier this year for punching a colleague showed up for work at a countertop company on Wednesday and shot five of his co-workers has been arrested, authorities said. Three of them were killed and two critically wounded.

    Harford County, Md., Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler shows a picture of Radee Labeeb Prince, the suspect in the workplace shootings.
  4. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  5. The two Ricks tangle at what may be final debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — In what was likely the last mayoral forum before the Nov. 7 election, Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker started out small, discussing neighborhood issues like recycling and neighborhood funding. They ended tangling over familiar subjects: the future of the Tampa Bay Rays, sewage …

    Ex-Mayor Rick Baker, left, and Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, debated familiar topics. The Times’ Adam Smith moderated.