I don’t know how it came to this point. Perhaps it was my general interest and, honestly, complete astonishment in the amount of DUI cases in our area.
Perhaps, it was that I’ve been effected by death through DUI cases, not personally, but there’s not been a week that goes by that I don’t talk to someone who has lost a loved one due to someone’s irresponsible actions.
Through all of this, I expressed my interest and the idea for a centerpiece story all about DUIs was decided on and the research began.
Today, I interviewed a father who lost his daughter four years ago.
She was driving to her boyfriend’s house when a woman trying to outrun the police hit her head-on. She was hit so hard it knocked her to the back of her car and the small dog she loved so much that was riding in the back was killed instantly along with her.
She was 20. She had just gotten accepted into the university I graduated from and was home for only four weeks.
Had she lived, we would have gone to the same college at the same time. She would be where I am today if she had lived. She would be a 24-year-old woman working to make something of herself and trying to make her parents proud.
Her father showed me a video tape of his daughter after I asked what she was like. She was nice, pretty. I think we could have been friends.
He showed me her old bedroom and the closet she and her sister wrote in. Boys names, significant dates and hearts scribbled all over the once white walls.
I fought back the tears as he explained how his life has changed the past four years. As he talked about his oldest daughter getting married and the charm of her sister that hung from her bouquet.
She lived her too short of a life to the fullest, her father said.
I knew diving into this subject would not be easy, but I never knew how personally connected I could feel to someone who died four years ago. Someone I never met.
Then I got angry. In Florida, the maximum sentence for DUI manslaughter is 15 years. A life is worth 15 years if you drink and drive.
I thought about the number of arrest reports I write up where someone is caught driving under the influence. Even now, I’m sitting at my desk wondering what to do. How can I help to effect change.
God has put me in an odd place in this world as a journalist. In a sense, I have the power to help effect change. This is just the first time I realized the position I am in and the importance of doing something good for the time I am here.
Now, I just have to write the story.