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OpinionCommentary

Do-it-yourself justice never works

The brutal lesson from North Bellport dirt-bike incident.

A minivan driver was arrested after a crash

A minivan driver was arrested after a crash that killed one and gravely injured another on Thursday, June 22, 2017, in North Bellport, police said. The accident had forced the temporary closure of Montauk Highway between Station Road and Hoffman Avenue earlier in the day as police investigated. Photo Credit: James Carbone / News 12 Long Island

Of the important tenets required for harmonious human existence, “don’t steal my stuff” is a solid one. Another is “don’t kill others.”

The two clashed in a confluence of horrific events in North Bellport Thursday morning. Two men, ages 19 and 20, who Suffolk police said were riding a suspected stolen dirt bike were reportedly chased and fatally run over by the driver of a minivan. The driver was Christopher Bouchard of Mastic Beach, the 27-year-old brother of the bike’s owner, police said.

On Friday, he was held on $200,000 cash bail or $400,000 bond after he pleaded not guilty to reckless endangerment charges.

Bouchard’s actions were a sickening criminal response to a lesser crime.

Steal my bike? Oh, boy.

Yes, you deserve to be animatedly confronted. But crashing a vehicle into two people, destroying their lives as well as yours over some bolted-together aluminum, rubber and plastic? Do we not spend vast sums on law enforcement professionals precisely so we can avoid thoughtless, bloodthirsty, do-it-yourself justice solutions?

The story hit close to home because I wrote a children’s book about such a scenario based on my own life’s run-ins with larcenous bike aficionados. “Ben Rides On” is about a boy whose prized bicycle is stolen by a large and unprincipled classmate. But when confronted with an opportunity to mete out frontier-style justice, Ben pauses, and chooses a different, more intelligent path.

It’s heartbreaking, and telling, to contemplate that the answer to Thursday’s Cro-Magnon-level carnage can be found in the pages of a book for 6-year-olds.

Matt Davies is Newsday's cartoonist.

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