Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

A tale of tragedy and a tale of travesty

Write to the Point


As a parent, and now grandparent, my heart aches, my eyes roll and I had to shake my head over two recent news stories.

They both involved families doing family things. Each had different outcomes. One ended in tragedy while the other, luckily, happily, if not drowning in waves of controversy.

The tales are those of the Kolves family from not far away in the Columbia Basin, and the Kaufmans from California.

The Kolves were thrust into the headlines March 30, when what was originally reported as simply a tragic traffic accident that took the lives of dad, Scott and one of his three sons, Korey. All were in a pickup truck that plunged into a canal south of Coulee City.

Had it not been for the efforts of fishermen, and a Department of Fish and Wildlife agent, perhaps the two other Kolves sons may not have made it, either.

Eric and Charlotte Kaufman’s tale surfaced over this past weekend after the San Diego couple with two small children, Lyra, 1, and Cora, 3, were rescued some 1,000 miles at sea off the Mexican coast. Their long-held plans to sail around the world were dashed when their 36-foot sailboat — The Rebel Heart — experienced problems that set them adrift.

The Kolves, it seems, will forever be haunted by dad deciding that driving along a dirt road next to an irrigation canal was the place to let his 10-year-old son take the wheel and teach him how to drive.

I first grabbed the wheel of the old family car when I was about 14 and visiting friends who lived outside Starbuck, Wash. My buddy Scott and I drive around a big field along the meandering Tucannon River, ironically a place now 50-feet under water behind the reservoir of Little Goose Dam on the Snake River.

The biggest hazards there was the fact that I was driving a Corvair, and there were the rattlesnakes that loved to sometimes sun themselves on the porch.

There’s surely a cloud of second-guessing so thick it makes breathing very difficult as the Kolves family tries to put their lives back together as best as they can.

They’re the one’s for which my heart aches. Questioning the whys of the Kolves’ tragic story is senseless piling-on.

The fortunate ones are the Kaufman’s. Their family remains intact after the Rebel Heart’s problems. They can thank the National Guard, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, for locating and finally bringing them back to civilization.

Over the years, I offered parenting advice about as often as I changed the diapers for other people’s infants. That’s a big zero.

However, it never did keep me from wondering just what was in the Kaufman’s heads? Just what they thought was at all wise to pack up innocent children who probably would remember but a fraction of the voyage, had it happened. The infant, for crying out loud, had just gotten over salmonella poisoning.

For years I watched as friends slowly built and retrofit a sailboat that they too hoped might one day allow them to follow their dreams — and the winds — on a voyage around the world. The only difference was they were retired before they attempted the voyage.

Aside from the tremendous cost and risks the Kaufmans put rescuers through, they needlessly put their innocent children at risk. They, of course, are in the midst of a firestorm of controversy, and rightly so.

The only downside is that the Kaufman’s 15 minutes of fame will surely morph into more. There will be a book and a movie. They’ll surely be heroes and pioneers in some circles.

Oh, what a team the Kaufman’s are.

They’re the ones that make my head shake and my eyes roll.

Paul Delaney can be reached at

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