I believe in driving only while stone cold sober. One person’s reckless behavior can have an immense effect on the lives of perfect strangers. A couple summers ago my world was spun completely around when I received word that my cousin, Caitlin, had been in a car accident. At 24, Caitlin was nine months pregnant, expecting her second child, a baby girl named Jillian. Her c-section was scheduled for the next day. She was out running some last minute errands like formula and diapers. She rolled her Ford Explorer up to an intersection. She paused at the light, adjusted her rear view mirror, checked on her 2 year old son, Ryan, in the back seat. The light turned green and she pressed her foot to the gas. Within a matter of seconds, her car would be rammed on the driver’s side by a large pickup truck, and her SUV would be crushed like an empty can. Caitlin and her toddler son, Ryan, were hit by a drunk driver. Not just a guy with a streak of bad luck, a three time repeat offender of drunk driving, who was driving without a license.
Caitlin was unconscious in the driver’s seat, hunched over the wheel, her swollen belly pinned by the steering wheel. Ryan screamed in the back seat, trapped in his car seat. The crowd grew and grew around the wreck. Someone pulled Ryan out from the back seat and held him. The onlookers, including the driver of the truck, and little Ryan watched as the rescue workers used the Jaws of Life to wrench Caitlin free from this massive pile of crushed steel and shattered glass. After about 2 hours, Caitlin was in critical condition in the intensive care unit at Mass. General Hospital. Jillian had been born by emergency c-section, but with major complications. While Caitlin lay pinned against the steering wheel, the oxygen to the baby had been cut off. The doctors said Jillian had been without air for over 40 minutes.
Jillian never got to play in a little league T-Ball game, or got to be a ballerina. She never got to feel the hot sand of the Cape on her feet. She never had the chance to know her Mommy, or her big cousin, Meghan, who was so anxious for her arrival. Her life was cut tragically short by a selfish careless man. He was someone’s son, he could have been someone’s father. We never cared to know anything about him really, even though his girlfriend has reached out to our family. What we did know was that he was a man who in a moment of weakness, made the wrong decision. Anybody could be in that position at any given moment, and I am sure that the pain our family has felt doesn’t even hold a candle to the guilt that this man must feel while sitting in prison. I believe in thinking twice, and I believe in safe driving.