Thanksgiving Holiday Tragedy REMINDER: Buckle Up and Say No to Buzzed Driving !!!
Remember me and my story this Holiday Season. Buckle Up and Say No to Buzzed Driving !!!
We left for home Thanksgiving day in the twilight, filled with Grandma Cleo’s cooking, lots of hugs and our heads filled with family stories shared in laughter.
The drive on Palmdale Highway 138, a two land undivided road, was lined with cars coming and going like bumper cars. I always hated this part of the drive and kept checking my speed to stay at 55 MPH, which was not my normal routine driving practice.
After about ten minutes, feeling overly cautious, I looked over at my son in the front passenger seat and noticed his seatbelt was not fastened and sharply told him to “Put on your seatbelt, NOW!”, and glanced over my shoulder to make sure my other son was buckled up!”
Thirty seconds later a small car driven by a drunken women with five children, only one two year old in a restraint system, swerved from the oncoming traffic right in front of me. There was no way to avoid the accident. I slammed on my brakes to attempt to stop in time. Her oncoming speed and my oncoming speed were equal to at least 110 miles an hour. Not enough time to stop.
That moment of impact will be imbedded in my soul forever. Three of the five children were killed instantly. The woman driver killed her only daughter and two of her sister’s children. The driver (She) survived along with the two year old in the car seat and one other young boy cousin.
Shock started to set in as I walked back and collapsed beside my two boys on the desert floor. It was freezing cold. We were forty five minutes away from the nearest hospital. More strangers pulled over to assist. Because we all survived some of these strangers made angry accusations as they walked passed, they assumed I was the at fault driver. I protectively gathered my son’s to me and tried to keep them warm. A kind couple in a motor home brought blankets, covered us and stayed with us and spoke comforting words until help arrived. I will be ever grateful.
We were all transported to the local hospital by ambulance. In the emergency room I watched the Highway Patrol officers go to her bed speak quietly to her for a few minutes and then began a bone chilling chorus of her wailing; “I killed my sister’s babies. I killed my sister’s babies”.
The decision to check my son’s seat belt thirty seconds before the accident saved his life. By the grace of God, we all walked away from the accident with severe seatbelt injuries, sore for several weeks and left with dreams, nightmares and feelings of inappropriate survivor guilt that would haunt me for years. I asked myself a thousand times, “What could I have done differently to avoid hitting them?” I replayed the accident in slow motion over and over again and again in my mind to find an answer that was not to be found.
I read about her in the paper, she was sited for three counts of vehicular manslaughter. How would she live with the consequences of her drunk driving? My heart ached for this woman, her sister and her family, those innocent children.
Remember me and my story this Holiday Season. Fasten your seatbelts, make sure to use and install a proper car seat for your children, drive defensively and don’t drink and drive. The lives of your family and other’s are at stake!
I am so grateful the lives of my two son's were spared and that we will be celebrating another joyous holiday together along with my precious grandchildren.
Buzzed driving is drunk driving. Getting behind the wheel after even just one too many drinks can lead to disaster.
Show your support to end buzzed driving by pledging to make good decisions by not driving under the influence of alcohol. Take the time to share the pledge with others and with your help, we can end buzzed driving.