One might skim over such news such as part of the "normal" everyday carnage of America's highways where around 43,000 people are killed and 2.93 million people are injured every year. In fact, in the USA, car crashes are the leading cause of death for ages 3 through 33. (And you thought war was hell).
This case is different, however, as the people killed in the Explorer were Prince Tu'ipelehake and his wife Princess Kaimana of the Kingdom of Tonga along with their driver.
Regular readers of this blog know I don't get very excited over the fates of royalty. Again, this case is an exception. You see, in Tonga the 88 year old King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, appoints most of the politicians. Only a minority of the parliament are elected. Prince Tu'ipelehake (a nephew of the king) was the leading reformist in the royal family. He was head of a national committee formed just a year ago to study democratic reforms for the kingdom, and was in California to meet with expatriates there on the last leg of the group’s public consultations.
The royal family has come under sharp criticism in the last several years with charges which include drug running and corruption. The pressure for reform has been stepped up especially by expatriates in the USA and New Zealand who send large amounts of funds to to their families in Tonga. The reform group headed by Tu'ipelehake has the endorsement of the king by the way, as the government recognizes the need for reforms to move the country forward, provide more opportunity at home and stem the flow of Tongans moving abroad (and I am sure, to keep the money flowing in).
In the wake of this tragedy, I am sure the people of Tonga will move ahead with even greater resolve to make their country a better place, but how sad that such a senseless accident will impact an entire nation. One can wonder why it was their car that was struck. Why does a tornado level one house and leave another standing? There are too many variables to calculate such things. I don't know. In such cases as this, fate is the hunter.