Jeff Pearlman

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Gina Naclerio and lost youth

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The other day a writer I’m friends with told me about a car accident involving a teenage boy he knows. The kid and his pal were both drunk, both high. I’m not sure which one was behind the wheel, but their car slammed into an oncoming vehicle. Everyone lived, but neither kid was wearing a seat belt, and the injuries were severe.

Having heard this, I immediately thought of the late Gina Naclerio, a former classmate of mine at Mahopac High School who was killed in an automobile accident 13 years ago. Gina was a junior when I was a senior. We were little beyond hall-passing friends—Hi. What’s up? How’s it going?—though she dated someone I was pretty close to. Gina was one of those girls you had to like. She was perky. Friendly. Outgoing. Always quick with a smile. Never rude or dismissive. I liked her a lot, though once I graduated I never spoke with her again.

Then, in the early hours of November 3, 1996, her life ended. She was 23-years old; a passenger in a Trans Am going too fast, driven by a guy who would later be charged with reckless driving, speeding, and driving while intoxicated. The accident took place in my hometown, right in front of the shopping plaza where I once stocked shelves at CVS. I was certainly heartbroken, but, more than anything, unnerved. So young. So vibrant. So …

I’m not really sure what the point of this post is, other than I hate drunk drivers, and I hope those who escape with their lives know how friggin’ fortunate they are; how unfair it is, in a sense, to those who no longer exist because someone was dumb enough to get behind the wheel after a hard night of partying.

I think of Gina once or twice a year; about her family; about youth lost and potential unmet. I think about the husband she never married; about the children she never had; about Christmas and Easter and birthday parties and vacations to faraway places.

And I think of how shameful it is.

How she should still be here.

Living.

  • http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com Todd

    Jeff – if you hate drunk driving, you’ll probably hate this too: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/lee-218735-prosecutors-hyundai.html

    If this guy had killed a pro-ballplayer like Nick Adenhart everyone who know about it. Instead, he killed my cousin and almost no one outside of SoCal knows about it.

  • Steve

    A friend of mine was recently involved in a serious car accident. Her boyfriend pulled to a stop at a railroad crossing (I suppose to be extra careful), then they were suddenly rear-ended at 60 mph.

    The driver of the other vehicle? You guessed it. Drunk. My friend survived with minor injuries. Her boyfriend didn’t.

    He was 20.

    I’ll never understand how someone could be so reckless, with such little regard for human life. So many innocent lives are lost each day, while irresponsible assholes live to see the sun rise again. Even worse, many walk free with no repercussions.

    I don’t understand the world sometimes.

  • Lou

    Hi Jeff,

    I am Gina’s dad. Thank you so much for remembering Gina the way she was, and for thinking about her.

    It was a terrible day for all of us. It’s just unfortunate that the person responsible never paid for his crime.

    Lou

  • Alyson

    I was just forwarded this link by Gina’s sister Lisa. My name is Alyson, and am proud to have been Gina’s friend. It is 14 years today that we lost a beautiful, fun and amazing girl who made people happy just by being in the room. I think about Gina today, and many other days when I think of what she has missed, and what we all have missed without her with us anymore. Her death was senseless and unfair, but her life was amazing and I remain grateful that I was able to be a part of it.
    Thank you for remembering her and for speaking out against drunk driving….I hope it makes people think.

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