ï»¿Chemical Dependency & the Law
I attended a Victim's Panel tonight at the First Congregational Church in Bellevue. I showed up early, not knowing what to expect. The meeting was in the church's sanctuary and the panel seemed to be a little out of sorts because they have always met downstairs and this was the first time in a new setting. I found out later that the church uses the downstairs as shelter for the homeless in November. When I arrived inside, there was a long line of people waiting to go in. There were four panelists who shared their stories.
George was the first to speak up. He first told the crowd that no ...view middle of the document...
The next person who shared was Diane. She is currently a Defense Attorney who currently represents some DUI clients. She has previously been a Prosecuting Attorney and a Magistrate. She states she has never heard anyone give her a reasonable excuse for why they chose to drink and drive. A 17-year-old young man, who was drunk, going 80 mph in a 30-mph zone hit her car on Mercer Island. When going around a curve in the road, the young man had gone completely into her lane. Diane pulled her car as far to the right as she could, but still was sideswiped and spun around. She did not have her seat belt on and her head went into the windshield breaking it. She was admitted into the hospital due to her injuries. She continues to be amazed at the huge group that comes to these panels, as she can't believe that people continue to still drink and drive.
Shirley shared about her son who was 23 years old and in the Air Force. He was down in California for leadership training. He and a fellow Air Force friend were driving through an intersection in a Volkswagen Rabbit, they had the green light. A red car, driven by a drunk driver, ran right through its red light and slammed into the passenger side of the VW Rabbit, the side that her son was sitting on. He was found under the dashboard, in and out of consciousness and eventually drowned in his own blood (on the medical report). As a mother, Shirley said she tried to negotiate with God and the devil to spare her son's life in exchange for her own. She tortured herself with the "If only's . . .". Shirley stressed to the crowd not drink and drive and not run red lights. She stated she sees someone run a red light every day. At end Shirley shared a statistic. During the period of January 17, 1991 to February 21,1991, 166 soldiers lost their lives in the Gulf War. In that same period of time, 2517 people were killed in America by drunk drivers. The point being in the irony of it. The soldiers were safer fighting in a war than staying home.
The last person to share was Gene. He didn't sit with the rest of the panel and when he shared he was standing by those who were seated. Gene came from the aspect of relating to the crowd, as he was a repeated offender having received 13 DUI's. His last, back in 1988, was the worst. He was driving his van with his best friend. They had been out partying, hopping from one bar to another as it was his best friend's birthday. His friend was very drunk, but requested that Gene stop by the store and get him a pack of cigarettes before he was taken home. Gene remembers leaving the bar and beginning to drive down a road in Redmond when he passed out behind the wheel. His foot rested on the accelerator and the van sped up to 80 mph taking out a guard rail on the side of a bridge, going over the side and getting the van stuck in the mud,...