An Ohio police officer penned a heartfelt note to an 18-year-old he ticketed for speeding, saying “you were minutes away from an unspeakable Christmas tragedy when I stopped you.”
According to the letter posted to the department’s Facebook page, North Ridgeville Police Officer Jim Larkin stopped the teen because he was going 100 mph in a 45 mph zone.
“You said you didn’t realize how fast you were going. That’s a lie,” Larkin wrote in the now-viral post. “You may not realize when you’re doing 45 in a 35 but you are fully aware of every mile per hour at 100. You realize it with every bump you hit. You realize it as you pass cars so fast the wind moves your car. You realize it every time you drift over the line and when you move the wheel the car reacts a lot quicker than you’re used to. You absolutely realized it.”
The letter went on to say the teen was visibly shaking when he was stopped, but Larkin noted he was afraid for the wrong reason.
Larkin added he has had to inform parents about their teens' deaths following accidents.
“I know you’re invincible. I know that you can’t even fathom your own death,” he continued. “I can tell you dozens of stories of dead and broken 18 year old bodies that I’ve pulled from cars. Broken bodies that I’ve found in front yards after crashes. Unrecognizable bodies. They thought they were invincible too. They weren’t. They were gone so they missed the part where I had to tell their parents that they were dead. Part of your soul disappears every time you have to tell parents that their kid is dead.”
Larkin says the teen seems like a nice kid who made a bad decision, but he is happy he got to give him the ticket and that he hopes the teen is paying it off for months.
The letter has gone viral with nearly 150,000 Facebook shares and thousands of comments.
“I hope you slow down. I hope that when your mom tells you to 'drive safe' you make a promise to her, and yourself, that you will. I hope you can envision me sitting in your kitchen telling your screaming mother that you have been killed,” Larkin said. “Slow down. Please. You are not invincible. I promise.”
At a city council meeting on Monday, North Ridgeville Mayor David Gillock acknowledged the officer's Facebook post.
“All of our officers are sincere and care but I thought this one was a little bit special and I would suggest that parents read that and share it with their teenagers,” he said, the Chronicle-Telegram reported. “In a way it’s a great Christmas story because the young man is safe, but if Officer Larkin wasn’t doing his job the outcome could’ve been different.”