December 13, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 50

Editorial

Some readers complained this week that my story and headline last week about the state trooper’s report on the Oct. 23 drowning death of Ted Lynch were insensitive, inappropriate and a wrongful attempt to sell newspapers.

The story included an account of the accident by deckhand Terence Moniz, including Moniz’s statement that he and Lynch had been drinking and that he was half-drunk when he tried to pull Lynch aboard the Darlin Michele.

My story quoted Moniz because he was the only witness to what happened and he had no apparent motive for being untruthful about his level of inebriation. Further, his condition was confirmed by an eyewitness trooper account and by an alcohol test.

I included inebriation in the headline because it provided a plausible explanation for why Moniz was unable to bring aboard Lynch, who was apparently wearing a life vest and also secured to the vessel by a tethered life ring. The weather that day was not especially rough.

Knowing why and how fishermen die at sea – including the specifics of accidents – are of vital importance to residents of a fishing town.

An insensitive response to this tragedy would be to not report the deckhand’s account fully and prominently. To qualify this story or to report its most revealing details lower in the story where they might be overlooked would diminish the only possible value this tragedy holds for us.

The story and its presentation were based on my conviction that we honor the memory of those who die in fatal accidents by working to ensure such accidents aren’t repeated.

That begins with knowing the details.

If, in my attempt to make plain the facts, I have hurt Lynch’s family members or friends, I am sorry.

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Last summer, when Haines Borough Assembly members wanted voters to relax financial disclosure laws affecting them, leaders held public workshops explaining why they thought it was a good idea.

Assembly members would be wise to hold similar meetings about promoting trans-shipment of ore.

Some residents already are questioning trans-shipment. Meanwhile, the assembly’s push for a heavy-duty bridge at 25 Mile and millions of dollars of improvements at Lutak Dock indicate the government wants to make Haines an ore truck destination.

Leaders haven’t yet explained why they want the trucks, what volume of trucks they envision, or in what ways they expect truck traffic will affect the town.

Sitting down with citizens and having this conversation -- before more public resources are committed to this effort -- would go a long way toward smoothing bumps in this road.

-- Tom Morphet