Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Letter to the Denver Post Newspaper
I was wondering why the news and media do not cover drunk driving accidents I had to search through over 70 google pages just to find drunk driving statistics that were already 4 years out of date. In 2003 nearly 17,000 people died in drunk driving crashes. Many of these people were innocent people just on their way home from a friend's house or work. Often they are killed or seriously injured and live for the rest of their lives with pain. These drunk drivers are often let go with minimal punishment. If they are not insured then the victims have nearly no recourse. Yet the Media does not seem to care. On July 2nd I was riding home in my Jeep wrangler sitting in the passenger seat after a night of drinking while my wife acting as my designated driver took me home. Nearing midnight on this holiday weekend a drunk driver with a suspended license in a Dodge Ram 2500 came barreling down a one way street, in an alcoholic haze, heading the wrong way. He was being chased by two police officers who were unable to catch him before he came around the bend in the road and hit us head on. My wife had no time to react to the collision. She was lucky that he hit more on my side, as my wife escaped with whiplash and soft tissue damage that would later develop into some lasting pain. I on the other hand was not so lucky. The Metal frame had crushed my right leg and pieces of metal were sticking through my foot and lower leg. I would later find out that I had broken nearly every bone in my foot, had three breaks in my lower leg, my fibula sticking out through my thigh muscle, three hip fractures and two pelvic socket fractures. Had the Police not been on the scene immediately and had the paramedics not responded so quickly there is no doubt that I would have died from blood loss. My wife frantically tried to pull the crushed jeep off of my leg as I screamed in pain. One police officer came over to stop her from her futile efforts and to attempt to calm me down. I was going into shock and things were not looking good for me. The other officer went to tend to a still very drunk and unharmed drunk driver. He was uncooperative with the officer, and did not seem to care that I was hanging onto life by a thread just a few yards away from him. The man was placed under arrest and given a felony blood draw an hour later that registered .217. This is nearly three times over the legal limit in Colorado. In spite of this he was let go the next day on a $5000 bond. He has been free the last four months to live his life while I have been in the hospital and in a wheel chair. After several surgeries at the hands of talented orthopedic surgeons I will eventually be able to walk normally again. Even after what I have been through I should still consider my self lucky. This man will get off with a slap on the wrist though. When I spoke to the D.A. he said that the most he is probably going to get is 18 months work release, because his crime was not intentional. How was his crime not intentional? Anyone who gets into a car and drives with a blood alcohol level almost three times the legal limit has committed an intentional crime in my opinion. Even though my hospital bills are nearing $200,000 I will be lucky to get $100,000 as that is all that his insurance will cover. In the end my wife and I will have nothing. Please remember, I am the lucky one. Most people involved in these types of accidents are either dead or crippled for life. This is before we get into the financial repercussions that are caused by this type of behavior. Yet no one seems to care unless it happens to them. I know I didn't, and I know you don't. I know that this letter is a waste of time, because this story won't sell papers. It is to close to home for your readers. Something they don't want to think about happening to their kids or to themselves. But this is something that real media should cover, because media has the power to unite people and get them behind a set of ideas. We need to increase the penalties for these sick criminals. They should have mandatory prison sentences and they should never be able to drive a vehicle again. The victims of drunk driving accidents may spend their entire lives trying to recover from these accidents while the perpetrators of this nearly unpunished crime go free and often continue on with their lives as if nothing ever happened. My one true hope is that you never have to experience what I have had to experience. Unfortunately it is probably the only way that you would ever consider doing something about it.