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Reflection, Redemption and Atonement

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.
September 25, 2012 1:00:05 PM PDT
Atonement. That's what's supposed to be happening for Jews, starting at sundown tonight. Yom Kippur, the most important holiday in Judaism, is about reflection and redemption and atonement.

Which is what I'm thinking about today. Because I saw it, in a personal, painful, and up close way today. They buried Ruby Baum today, the 80-year-old man who was killed while hailing a cab Saturday night on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Two cars collided - and one of them ran over Ruby. He's the father of ABC News senior producer Danielle Baum Rossen and former Eyewitness News and ABC reporter Jeff Rossen. Right before the car hit and killed Ruby, he pushed his wife Denise aside, and saved her life. So they buried Ruby today. After the funeral service, we were all gathering outside, and a young man comes up to Denise. I'm the driver of the car, he tells her.

Shockwaves roll through the scores of people who hear this. I'm so sorry. That's what he said. I'm not sure I remember in great detail Denise's reaction after accepting his apology, because I immediately focused on the young driver who was crying and trembling and barely able to keep it together. Everything else for me became foggy and unfocused, except for this young man.

I'm the driver. That's what he said.

I put my arm around him, and asked him how old he is.

And then he told me.

Just 19.

19.

His mother and his grandfather were with him. They said they came to be with him, to express their sorrow, to apologize, but mostly to support him as he ventured into a place so many would never go - the funeral of the man he killed in a car accident.

What a transformative moment - for the teenager, for the Baum family, for all of us who saw this incredible moment unfold. He who had been demonized, was suddenly humanized. The devil in the Mazda, suddenly morphing into a boy who caused an accident. An accident. It could have been any of our children.

I'm not sure what to say because I'm not sure I'm done processing this day of pain and sorrow that quickly also turned into an attempt at atonement and redemption.

Ruby's son, Shep, described in his eulogy the things he had learned from his dad. One of them was that his father said you should always accept an apology from someone who truly seems sorry.

The teachings of the patriarch will now be put to the test.

I'll be off the 11 p.m. newscast tonight for the holiday, but my teammates will be there - bringing you the news of the night, plus the AccuWeather forecast, and the night's sports.

BILL RITTER

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