Another View: Lessons from the hard stories to report

Another View
By: Jenifer Gee, Journal editor
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The week in news has been a difficult one to digest. Locally we reported two tragic deaths and one very horrific alleged crime that will no doubt impact the lives of those involved forever. In addition, there were two river rescues, a small fire that came too close for comfort for one home and a string of accidents on a stretch of Interstate 80 that made for interesting reads. Working in a newsroom for a few years you learn to separate yourself from every story, especially the ones that cover difficult topics. It doesn’t mean, though, that you don’t have empathy for those you’ve interviewed, nor do you forget those stories. This week Features Editor Krissi Khokhobashvili interviewed the daughter of Cheryl L. Camilleri. Camilleri died over the weekend after she was presumably thrown from her horse while riding on a trail in Hidden Falls Regional Park in an area between Auburn and Lincoln. The Cool resident was not wearing a helmet that day. Her daughter, Brooke Smith of Loomis, stressed to Krissi that she wanted that to be in the story to share with other horse riders how wearing a helmet may have saved her mother’s life. What a brave request for her to make, especially during such a difficult time. It’s a heartbreaking “what could’ve happened?” question to ask, but perhaps Brooke sharing that information will help other horse riders make a decision to put on a helmet. Maybe they won’t, but if they read her words, at least hopefully it will give them pause. There are really no words for the loss of the young life of 12-year-old Tyler Nickerson. A tragic accident that has struck his family and the community of Colfax that knew the young boy as a hard worker and selfless teammate, according to his Little League Coach Marty Swan. Those stories appeared in the same issue as a story about a 14-year-old boy arrested on charges of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14. The teen was arrested at Colored Pencils Preschool and Child Care in Auburn. The four victims are between the ages of 3 and 5, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. It’s certainly one of a parent’s worst fears and a case that is tearing at victims and their families. Reporter Amber Marra went to the scene shortly after the Sheriff’s Office issued a press release about the arrest. A woman at the preschool did not identify herself but was visibly emotional when she came outside to briefly speak to Amber. Amber then saw a family standing in a nearby parking lot. They spoke with her and a 3-year-old, who they said is one of the victims, was with them. We did not name the father per our policy not to identify victims of crimes and we did not want to identify the child through the name of their parent. The man, however, expressed a point-of-view you might not ever expect of someone grasping the horror of what has happened to their child. “Nobody wants to believe their child is a molester any more than someone wants to believe their kid has been molested,” he told Amber. His ability to consider the thoughts of a family of an alleged criminal was another quote that was unexpected but showed strength. It’s those parts of tragic stories like the ones this week that offer a small reminder that there are people who still think of others, even when they have every right to be consumed with their own emotions and grief. Perhaps that’s too philosophical but I do take those little lessons from stories such as those.