A lamentable reminder that there is no place immune from heinous crime, the death of a toddler in Cannon Beach last week cast a pall on what would ordinarily have been a sparkling weekend on the North Coast.

Though the 2-year-old’s mother has been arrested in this incident that also left her 13-year-old daughter severely wounded, as yet it is still too soon to draw firm conclusions. If the mother did in fact commit these crimes, some form of mental illness would appear to offer the most obvious explanation for horrifying actions that appear irrational. But a thorough investigation by the Cannon Beach Police Department and Clatsop County’s Major Crimes Unit, in tandem with District Attorney Josh Marquis, will reveal whether other motivations were a factor.

We all cringe when crime reports by national news media make us feel less secure in our own familiar hometowns. And yet here we are, confronting just such a heart-breaking incident in a place that most of us consider to be something of a paradise. In our complex and closely interconnected world, we each can easily be directly touched by events that shock and sadden us.

The teenage victim in this case likely owes her life to the swift professional care she received after she was discovered. We should all feel proud of these efforts, along with those by everyone who searched for the mother — particularly the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew who eventually spotted her vehicle deep in the woods.

It was good to see local people come together over the weekend and show their concern and support for the victims, family members and others hurt by this crime. It will be important in coming days and weeks to comfort local children, who are bound to hear of these events and perhaps doubt their own safety. Grownups, too, will feel shaken by the death of an innocent child, and should feel able to reach out for whatever support they need.

This is yet another horrifying incidence of domestic violence — an awful fact of life for all too many Americans. Particularly in these times when social service agencies, law officers and the families they serve are all feeling varying levels of financial strain, we must remain vigilant about intervening it these situations before they blow up out of control.

Coastal resort towns naturally attract a few negative, volatile people as a component of the summer crowds that come to enjoy these beautiful shores. We must continue making sure our government personnel and volunteers receive the funds they need to train for and respond to worse-case scenarios like this one.

It’s a tragedy that this family’s story exploded into the news here. And yet local people must be the responsible adults who see that justice is done and healing is begun.

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