The inky black skies which blanket the towns of Cape Cod are a perfect backdrop for a night canopy sprinkled with stars. Here in the easternmost part of Massachusetts is a natural beauty so special singer Patti Page immortalized it with lyrics proclaiming, “You’re sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod.”

But the Cape’s beauty can sometimes come at a price, a hefty one. I keep thinking about a tragedy on a starless night in Mashpee. The kind of night that is a virtual blackout with only drivers’ headlights piercing the dark. A perfect setting for an accident waiting to happen.

It happened barely a month ago when Mashpee businessman Constantinos Mitrokostas struck Jeremiah Smith at the intersection of Quinaquisset Avenue and Orchard Road. It was 8:30 pm and the thirteen-year-old was a half mile from home. The pizza parlor owner said he didn’t see Jeremiah until a “split second” before his Subaru hit him. Officers say Mitrokostros was not speeding; he was driving 30-34 miles an hour in a 30-mile zone. From the police report details of the moment which made the tragic accident possible --Jeremiah was wearing dark clothing, there was no sidewalk, and no crosswalks at the intersection, plus oncoming blinding headlights from a vehicle coming from the opposite way. The teenager was hit in the unlit spot between the street lights. There were three witnesses, two of whom say they had earlier seen other kids walking along the road in dark clothes. A third confirmed to the Cape Cod Times, “I could barely see the kids because of the lack of lighting in the roadway.”

Jeremiah died despite Mitrokostros’ efforts on the scene to save him. Jeremiah’s mother, Janice Williams Smith, shared her grief, “He’s the youngest one we have at home, and he’s gone.”

This latest tragedy may prompt discussion about increasing the amount of roadside lighting, a lack some see as a serious problem throughout the Cape.

Street lights are not a given on Cape Cod, or along many of the roads on Martha’s Vineyard where I often spend time every summer. Frankly, I avoid night driving there afraid the foliage will hide the roadside walkers.

Constantinos Mitrokostas says he can’t forget the accident. He’s started a program to distribute reflective clothing and flashing lights to Mashpee’s young people so they’ll stand out along the darkened roads. And he has plans to start a fund in Jeremiah’s name to encourage teens to be safe.

I know there are residents who are reluctant to mar the horizon with a string of street lights. Easier to see the moonlight on Cape Cod Bay that Patti Page croons about so sweetly. But, if my unobscured view must be sacrificed to save someone’s life, then so be it.