Collateral Damage

This car changed my life
Before I go on, I want to say it was wrong of me to lump in both the Senate and House Caucuses in my criticism of House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner. Seeing as how he’s chair and all, it might lead one to think that he’s speaking for the caucus. That mistake wouldn’t have been made had it been any other Democratic member of the House Caucus. So, just lump everything that I said here on Mike Turner. The Caucuses were collateral damage.

Now, on another note, I’ve been told by a few that I flew off the handle with that post. Maybe, maybe not. But I’ll tell you something, I don’t have any patience for drunk drivers and I have even less for people that make excuses or minimize the impact of their actions. I know that impact all too well.

It was 1984 and I was 12 years old. My parents, brother and I were up in Northwest Arkansas. It was a vacation of sorts, mixed with a job interview. Closest thing we’d had to a real vacation other than weekend camping trips and a quick trip to the World’s Fair in Knoxville.

We were in this small town of about 2500 people. Not much to do, but we saw a bowling alley on the way in, and decided to go do that (dad was on a league, and I wanted to be on one too).

We got there and it was closed. So we decided to head back and stop by the Wal-Mart on the way to the hotel to get something to keep us occupied. It was about 7pm.

We never made it to Wal-Mart.

About 300 feet shy of the driveway we were hit head on by a drunk driver. We were in a little Datsun 210. He was in a mid 1970’s Pontiac Gran Prix, like the one pictured above. It doesn’t take too much math to figure out who lost that battle.

The highway we were on had a posted speed limit of 40 MPH. A head on collision like that, at that speed very possibly could have killed us. Thankfully it didn’t. It did, however, take more than an hour for the emergency personnel to get my dad out of the car. The impact had crammed the whole front end, engine and everything, on his legs. He was pinned in.

I don’t think they even had “jaws of life” in that little town. If I remember correctly, they had to have them brought in from a town 15 miles away. Dad had all kinds of broken bones. Luckily, neither I, nor my brother was hurt. Adding insult to injury, neither was the driver of the other vehicle.

It took a couple of years of physical therapy for dad to be able to walk right again. He still has a little limp from the broken ankle.

Even though I wasn’t hurt any worse than a few bumps and bruises, and several days of being so sore I couldn’t move, this event changed my life. This wasn’t this guys first DUI. Chances are it wasn’t his last.

The reality is, this probably wasn’t Curry Todd’s first time behind the wheel drunk either. It was the first time he got caught. Studies suggest drunk drivers get behind around 100 times before getting caught. Anything that minimizes this is a disservice to society.

It hurts my soul to say I agree with Ron Ramsey, but I do. Throw the book at him. I don’t have any pity for Curry Todd. He made a choice, a really bad choice, and he’ll have to live with the consequences. But don’t call it a mistake. That sounds way to accidental to me. This was no accident.

I don’t usually do these emotional outbursts. I like to try to be the rational one.

This pissed me off to my core, and my experience with drunk drivers is why.

So there you have it. Make your own assessment. But don’t make excuses or minimize the actions of people who get behind the wheel stumbling drunk. I don’t have time or patience for that, friend or foe. That Curry Todd is one of the guys thats going to redistrict us into the stone age just makes it that much worse all the way around.

3 thoughts

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. Here’s mine:

    In 1995 my dad was crossing a street — in the cross walk — on his way home from picking up his new hearing aid. He didn’t drive, but took the public bus everywhere. He was killed instantly by a speeding Jeep Cherokee. In the car with the driver was an open bottle of vodka, bottles of valium, and two partially smoked joints. Also, in the backseat, his two children.

    The only thing he didn’t have in his car was a loaded gun.

    I was in New York at the time. My mom was on the other end of the country, partially paralyzed from a stroke. You never want to hear your ill mother on the other end of the phone saying “please … come home … now …” It was the worst day of my life.

    Curry Todd and everyone who was in the vicinity of his vehicle that night was very lucky that his story ended the way it did. That story could have ended like mine — or yours. This entire debate is simply a non-starter for people like us because we know better.

    Curry Todd needs help. He needs to get into a rehab program and he needs to atone for his colossal lapse of common sense. He can start by resigning from his seat and focusing on his own healing, and thanking God that he was stopped before someone got hurt. There simply is no other outcome that I can see or accept.

  2. Steve, emotions caused by life events can be a good thing if channelled in positive directions. Drunk drivers have sent my son to the hospital twice, once as a child and later when he was one month from college graduation. He recovered both times but the results could have been much worse. As a result, I feel much more strongly about drunk drivers, as you do.

    Also, I still hold to the old fashion idea that public officials should be held to a higher standard. So tell me, why should Todd NOT resign his seat?

  3. Dwayne,

    I absolutely agree with you, public officials should be held to a higher standard. As a result of his irresponsible choice, Curry Todd should resign, not only from his Chairmanship of the State and Local Gov’t Committee but from his seat.

    If he does it soon he could save taxpayers a lot of money by the election being added to the March Primary.

    Of course, there are things people should do, and things they actually will do. I don’t expect him to resign from the seat unless there is a great deal of pressure put on him from the Speaker of the House. Whether or not that pressure is forthcoming is yet to be seen.

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