The Christmas Day death of a pregnant Calumet City teen in Dolton is not an isolated tragedy but part of a long string of bad decisions with tragic consequences.
As happens so often when a child is shot and killed, Eva Casara, 17, was described as an innocent victim. But a closer look at this case is warranted.
Casara was 5 1/2 months pregnant when she was shot. Her child, Leilani Paris Casara, survived. That baby is a victim of this crime, too.
The baby's father, along with two other young men, have been charged in connection with the crime.
Dolton police and Cook County state's attorneys allege Casara herself was right in the middle of a convoluted scheme that turned fatal.
They said Casara set up a fake drug deal so her boyfriend, 16-year-old Anthony Lee, and his brothers Diante Coakley, 21, and Darius Marshall, 19, could rob the alleged drug dealer.
A prosecutor said Thursday all three fired at the vehicle in which Casara and the alleged drug dealer, a Hammond man, were sitting. Casara was struck by a bullet in the back of the head.
The intended victim of the crime, the alleged drug dealer, fled the scene and dumped Casara in an alley, police said. She was still alive. A passer-by found her Christmas night.
Coakley and Lee allegedly drove to Gary to look for Casara, not realizing the intended robbery victim lived in Hammond and not Gary.
If the police and prosecutors are right about this chain of events, it's one dreadful decision after another.
In cases like this, police and prosecutors come in after the fact to investigate the crimes involved. They seek to apprehend the criminals and bring them to justice.
But who's going to look at this crime to try to figure out where Casara, her boyfriend and his brothers started to go wrong? And how can those lessons be applied to help others avoid the tortured route those young people allegedly took?
Baby Leilani might or might not survive. If the baby does grow up, it will be without the mother and perhaps without the father as well.
Casara and Lee should have avoided pregnancy. They shouldn't have been having sex in the first place. Early sexual activity is a precursor to all sorts of troubles.
Even if there hadn't been another crime involved, the baby's life would have been difficult, and so would the teen mother's.
In the movie "It's a Wonderful Life," George Bailey gets to look at consequences before making an important life choice. He then makes the right decision.
If only Casara, her boyfriend and his brothers had that same opportunity when their lives started to go off the rails.
But now Casara's life is over at age 17, and the young men face potential legal consequences as well as the loss of a friend.
Talk about this tragic story with your kids. Make sure they see what bad decisions can lead to.