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HICKS: Emerging from news blackout

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It says something about the times in which we live that my husband and I decreed "no news" on our vacation. It's the only way we figured we could relax.

It's not easy to avoid all that's happening in the world, but it turns out a few ground rules do the trick: no free newspaper at our hotel room door, no Internet surfing on our laptops, no TV news. Nothing that might connect us -- even superficially -- to the world beyond the beach. The only exception to our "no news is good news" pact is my scheduled foray online for the purpose of filing this column.

So here I am, quickly checking to see what newsworthy events have happened in the world while I've been busy reading Harlan Coben. It turns out the content in our news media, much like daytime dramas, doesn't change much over the course of a few days.

For example, the soap-opera obsession with Gov. Sarah Palin continues as the media try to guess her next political move. There still is speculation about Judge Sonia Sotomayor's meaning when she says she will uphold "the law" (hint: she didn't say "the Constitution").

And headlines about the economy appear literally to be recycled from previous weeks, proving the whole "green" movement is catching on everywhere, even in the news business. It's also catching on in the Obama administration, which appears to be recycling the idea of a massive government stimulus.

So after several days in a self-imposed "DMZ" (de-media-ized zone), you might wonder which news story caught my eye. It would have to be a story so alarming and incredible that the short headline would jump off my computer screen and grab my attention, pulling my interest away from such riveting stories as, "Man reportedly kidnapped, force-fed beer in Utah."

Sure enough, there is such a story and it's gruesome: "Bronx dad dies saving son from lunatic," read the New York Post headline.

The details of the Sunday in New York incident remain sketchy. The gist of the story is that a 36-year-old man named Mark St. Pierre had an argument with his ex-girlfriend in the parking lot of a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in the Bronx.

In a blind rage, according to authorities, he climbed into a 2008 Infiniti and barreled down the street at speeds up to 85 mph, crashing indiscriminately into cars, injuring 13 people and ultimately killing 37-year-old Miguel Colon as he crossed the street with his 6-year-old son, Sebastian, and his tricycle.

There is much the story doesn't tell us. We don't know whether the ex-girlfriend, who bore Mr. St. Pierre's child, has endured his violent temper in the past. We don't know whether she feared for her life or those of her loved ones. We don't know too much about Mr. St. Pierre, either, though I'm sure the New York tabloids will keep us filled in. Does he have a long history of barbaric and violent behavior?

Stories such as this one usually don't hang on for long. Over these few days as I go back to my "DMZ," some details are emerging. There's already coverage of the heroic father who lost his life saving his young son.

We are starting to find out the supposed reason for Mr. St. Pierre's anger - the New York Post reports that his ex-girlfriend found another man and told him to move on - but never the reason why a man would indulge his rage at the expense of innocent strangers.

As news goes, this story is headed for media archives known as "morgue" files. Unfortunately, the reality for young Sebastian and his family will live on for a lifetime.

Then again, the reports suggest, at least Mr. St. Pierre got his anger out of his system.

• Visit Marybeth Hicks at www. marybethhicks.com.