Dear Mr. and Mrs. Valdez:
We do not seek to add to the scorn and contempt being hurled at you. Indeed, we note that in the immediate aftermath of the hit-and-run accident, there was no attempt to hide the SUV. It was left parked in front of your home, where the police found it. Moreover, you called police the next day and left a message indicating your daughter had been in an accident.
But then something changed. When a detective returned your call, no one answered. This tragedy quickly became a frustratingly coy game between your family and the officer endeavoring to learn how Melissa Sjostrom died.
Maybe you had gotten legal advice. What you didn't get, it seems, is good moral advice.
We suspect you won't be venturing out much the next few days, so we have a suggestion for a DVD to rent: Reservation Road. It didn't attract much attention when it came out in late 2007, but it is a compelling movie about the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident. Mark Ruffalo plays the hit-and-run driver, Joaquin Phoenix and Jennifer Connelly the parents of the dead boy. The movie's power, ultimately, is in revealing the price Ruffalo's character (a lawyer, by the way) pays for his cowardly silence.
What price in the longer run will your daughter pay for your protection, however well-intentioned it might be? What will pop up when someone Googles her name years from now?
In our e-mails to the editor, a reader writes: "I would bet that if the victim was someone in the Valdez family, they would want justice.''
We appeal to you to set this matter right. It's not too late.
— The Editors, tbt*
Editor's Note: tbt*/Tampa Bay Times is published by the St. Petersburg Times.