It was a sunny afternoon when a mom, her 10 day old son and her in-laws decided to take a walk in their neighborhood Monday. Mom was recovering from the birth of her son via c-section and it was the first time she had ventured out. It was a beautiful afternoon for a walk that suddenly went very, very wrong.
My wife and I lived in the very neighborhood at the very intersection that this horrific accident occurred when we were first married. It was our first house that we were lucky enough to purchase from a couple who was leaving town in a rush for a job elsewhere. We gave them a small down payment and assumed their loan. It worked out very well for us. It was a small house in a quiet neighborhood with paved streets, sidewalks and stores with in easy walking distance. The area is known as Wedgewood and the corner of N.E. 75th and 33rd N.E. wasn't always the easiest to navigate from any direction. You needed to be super careful due to a fairly steep grade leading to the crest of a hill right at 33rd.
On Monday afternoon the 33 year old mother with her son in a sling had navigated the intersection crossing 75th at 33rd. 75th is a high volume roadway with drivers who often exceed the speed limit. On this day, the mother had made it the other side of 75th when she noticed a truck coming up the hill towards the 66 and 68 year old grand parents who were still in the intersection. She turned to assist them and all of them were hit by a Chevrolet Silverado that was coming up the hill from the east into the sun. The two grand parents were killed instantly and the mom and her child where taken to our local emergency hospital with life threatening injuries. The child had to be resuscitated at the scene.
The driver of the truck was found to be impaired. A couple of days later the information was released that he was driving on a suspended license from several previous DUI's and was supposed to have a monitoring device in his vehicle. There was no device. He had a alcohol level of .22% well over the limit and is currently being held on a 2.5 million dollar bail.
The Seattle media (especially talk radio) talked about this man and what he had done for several days. The fact that the system had allowed him to drive a vehicle after so many issues leading up to the shattering of lives and the beautiful day. There were many discussions about alcoholics and why they are allowed to do what they do, get behind the wheel of a car and drive impaired. From where I sit, without massive investments in people to monitor these individuals this type of behavior will continue. It is sad, but most drunk people don't think.
As I have said many times, I am a recovering alcoholic. I spent may years drinking myself into a state of passing out both at home and away from home. I did get into a car and drive home after a night at the bar. I did drink all day on Saturday and hop in the car with my kids and go to the store for more alcohol. I did take my kids and wife on a road trip completely impaired and often returned home with my wife from parties beyond drunk. And when asked I always said I didn't have a problem. I denied that I had any kind of issue with alcohol and yet I drank myself into a stupor on many occasions all in the name of escaping the reality of what I perceive was a poor life. Thank God I woke up and realized that I don't have it as bad as I thought.
Drunks will not stop drinking, no matter how much you try to change them, unless they really want to quit. My family tried on many occasions to get me to stop and I refused. In fact, there were times that I drank more in defiance of their constant nagging. My wife and kids were merely concerned for my well being. Sometimes you have to hit bottom and come to a realization that what you're doing might not be the right thing. After some deep soul searching, praying and decision to make a leap of faith I decided to quit drinking altogether. On New Years Eve, I think it was 1995, I tossed my cigarettes in the trash as I went to bed and prayed for the strength to quit smoking and drinking. While it was not easy I have managed to stay away from both for almost 18 years. Even today it isn't easy. There are times that escaping reality sounds like a really good idea.
I am not defending the driver of the Silverado. I certainly had may opportunities to be in the same boat that he is in but I was never arrested for DUI. Someone was watching out for me.....
I understand how hard it is to give up an addiction. Any addiction. It takes perseverance and will power and frankly it took me several tries to finally succeed.
These kinds of incidents remind me of what an idiot I was when I was younger. It makes me want to help others, but unless they admit they have a problem there is really nothing anyone can do. Sadly, these kinds of incidents will occur and just like those that kill with guns, there is really no way to stop it.