Editor's note: Kelmy Tanon, a 16-year-old student at St. Petersburg High School, died last week in a three-vehicle crash that the Florida Highway Patrol says was triggered when a pickup driven by 67-year-old Julian Tanner rear-ended another vehicle. This is a letter from Kelmy's dad, Shane Tiernan, to that driver.
Dear Mr. Tanner,
We haven't met, but you caused the car crash that took my son's life. His name was Kelmy. He was 16. He wasn't perfect but he was amazing. He loved music and comic books and girls. He was ridiculous and loud, protective of his siblings and good at anything he tried. His room was always a disaster and he hated doing dishes. I think you get the picture.
I can't imagine your pain right now and that's why I'm writing — to let you know that I forgive you. I realize that people make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes cause others pain. I know that you deeply regret what has happened. I know that this situation could have happened to anyone, and I think that at this point you would probably gladly trade places with my son if you could. But you can't, and so both of our lives have been irrevocably changed by a cruel twist of fate.
I don't know what the future holds for you, but I sincerely hope that you will not be punished by the state. If there is anything I can do to help prevent that, please let me know. Also if there is anything I can do to help ease the pain of your regret, please contact me.
We are all just staggering around on this planet trying to figure out how to make ourselves, and hopefully others, happy. I hope this letter helps you and I hope that it helps you make a difference to the people in your life.
Shane Tiernan, aka Kelmy's dad, St. Petersburg