The open letter came on Sunday, posted on the Facebook page of a small Ohio police department.
It was penned, presumably, by a North Ridgeville Police Department officer, and addressed to “the 18-year-old kid I stopped on SR 10.”
But really, it was a message for teen drivers everywhere.
“You’re welcome,” the officer began his 532-word letter, which has since gone viral online. “I’d like to believe that you were minutes away from creating an unspeakable Christmas tragedy when I stopped you. If not only killing yourself, you were well on your way to killing some innocent person who was minding their own business doing nothing else wrong but being in front of you."
A photo was posted alongside the letter, a close-up of the speeding ticket the officer had written the teen. It said the 18-year-old was driving on State Road 10, a divided highway that passes by North Ridgeville, a northern Ohio town of 30,000 people 10 miles south of Lake Erie.
The speed limit, according to the ticket, was 65 mph. The teen was driving 100 mph.
“You said you didn’t realize how fast you were going. That’s a lie,” the officer wrote, noting that the young driver was “visibly shaking and breaking hard.”
“You may not realize when you’re doing 45 in a 35 but you are fully aware of every mile per hour at 100,” the post continued. “You realize it with every bump you hit. You realize it as you pass cars so fast the wind moves your car. You realize it every time you drift over the line and when you move the wheel the car reacts a lot quicker than you’re used to. You absolutely realized it.”
The police department declined a request from The Washington Post to comment further on the Facebook post, which by Monday had been shared more than 60,000 times.
In the letter, the officer wrote about the emotional toll of responding to the scene of car crashes, of pulling “dead and broken 18-year-old bodies” from vehicles and front yards.
“They thought they were invincible too. They weren’t,” the officer wrote. “They were gone so they missed the part where I had to tell their parents that they were dead. Part of your soul disappears every time you have to tell parents that their kid is dead.”
The note continued: “I don’t KNOW your parents, but I know them. I know that when you leave every day they say ‘Be careful. Drive safe.’ Those aren’t just words. That is the very last act of them pleading with you to come home safe.”
The young driver seemed like “a really nice kid who made a bad decision,” the officer wrote in the post. “I don’t feel bad about this ticket at all. In fact, I’m proud of it. I hope you’re paying it off for months and with every payment you think about how it wasn’t worth it. I hope you slow down. I hope that when your mom tells you to ‘drive safe’ you make a promise to her, and yourself, that you will. I hope you can envision me sitting in your kitchen telling your screaming mother that you have been killed.”
The post closed with a final plea: “Slow down. Please. You are not invincible. I promise.”