Sunday, April 21, 2024

Riley Strain’s Case Hits Home: A Maryland Couple’s Warning

HomeU.S.Riley Strain's Case Hits Home: A Maryland Couple's Warning

When Jack Turnbull and Adele Brockmeyer saw the harrowing news about Riley Strain, a 23-year-old college student who disappeared in Nashville earlier this month only for his body to be pulled from the Cumberland River days later, it struck a visceral chord.

The Maryland-based attorneys, who have a 20-year-old son and an 18-year-old daughter of their own, could envision the unthinkable scenario playing out with their own children or their friends. In the aftermath, they felt compelled to share a simple but powerful message on TikTok: “Never ever leave your wingman.”

“Whether you’re 15 or 55, whether you go into a bar, a concert, spring break, whatever it is, have a wingman and don’t leave your wingman,” Mr. Turnbull said in one of their videos, his wife nodding emphatically beside him. “That’s when bad things happen.”

While they have no personal connection to Mr. Strain or his devastated family, the couple said the tragedy in Nashville hit perilously close to home. They recounted an unsettling experience from last fall when a high school girl visiting their son’s campus disappeared for several hours before being found safe.

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“She just was there for a football game,” Ms. Brockmeyer explained. “We happened to be there that weekend at his college. And so the Riley Strain case kind of just hit home.”

The couple attributes modern societal pressures, fueled by oversharing on social media, as a driving factor behind the reckless behavior that can put young people’s lives in jeopardy during nights out.

“It just seems that social media has grounded into kids — young adults and even adults — that every night is the best night of their lives,” Ms. Brockmeyer said. “They don’t want to miss a thing because they might not be in a photo that gets posted on a story or they’re not in that Snapchat photo.”

Mr. Turnbull grimly added, “Then you wake up the next day and [wonder] ‘Where is he?'”

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The couple underscored that age is irrelevant when it comes to the sobering need for accountability and watching out for one another in unfamiliar social settings, whether rookie partygoers or seasoned barflies.

“We all joke about women going to the bathroom together,” Mr. Turnbull said. “But there’s a reason they do that. It may be social, but it’s safe too if they’re in an unusual environment.”

He emphasized, “That’s what we wanted to get through on the video – it probably isn’t the best night of your life. It’s okay not to be in that Facebook photo or that Instagram post. Make sure your friend gets home alive.”

Ms. Brockmeyer revealed that her college-aged son has adopted an invaluable strategy with his own friend group, leveraging technology to keep each other safe.

“His friend group has [the family locator app] Life 360 on their phones and they all make sure each other gets home,” she said.

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Beyond digital safety nets, the couple continuously reminds their children about situational awareness and avoiding putting themselves in harm’s way, be it by excessive drinking or wandering off alone.

“With this lack of accountability that comes up because of this pressure of social media, [and] you throw youth and alcohol in the mix, it’s a tough quotient,” Mr. Turnbull said gravely. “But if you don’t leave your wingman, there is a much better chance of getting through the night.”

For the Turnbull and Brockmeyer families, the sobering lesson from Mr. Strain’s horrific fate is straightforward: Fostering a steady support system among friends could ultimately mean the difference between a rough night and an unthinkable tragedy.

“Never ever leave your wingman,” they implore. No social media glory is worth risking a precious life.

Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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