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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Very Serious Accident Hit a Little too Close to Home

Photo Source: Vanderburgh Country Sheriff's Office
A fatal accident happened on the west side last Saturday around 10:35. I was awake and heard the sirens. I live far enough away from the Expressway that I don't hear the traffic, but I live close enough that I hear the sirens ... and I notice the sirens more now.

Ever since my son's accident, sirens fill me with dread, especially at night. My son is fine now, which is a miracle unto itself, but those involved in the accident this past weekend are anything but okay. Thee teenagers were hit head-on by a drunk driver, driving the wrong way. One young man, only 15 years old, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other teenagers, both 16, were taken to the hospital with life threatening injuries. One is still critical, one has been upgraded to fair. The 38 year old driver who hit them had a blood alcohol content of over four times the legal limit. There is evidence that he was involved in a hit and run just ten minutes before the fatal accident.

I still remember when I got the call that my son had been in a car accident and that he was in ICU on a ventilator. It was 3:21a.m., Wednesday, December 17th. It took a few moments to wake up enough to realize what I had just been told. I got dressed as quickly as I could, then headed to the hospital with my daughter. I was terrified. I had so many questions. I was in shock and confused, and the next two weeks felt like a nightmare from which I couldn't wake up. I felt like I was swimming through mud.

Through the worst of it, I consoled myself with the fact that the hospital called, not the morgue. I'd stand by his bed and hold his hand. It was warm, and that meant he was alive. At that point, that's all I could concentrate on ... at least he was alive.

About a week after the accident I left the hospital to run home to grab some clean clothes. I drove by the site of the accident. I was trying to find the tree he hit, but I couldn't find it. A day or so later I went there with my boyfriend and we found it. Seeing where it happened didn't change anything, but I just had to see it. I had to go there. At that point, my son was off the ventilator, but his future was still uncertain. We had no idea if the trauma to his brain would cause permanent damage ... and I just had to stand in the last place that my son was whole.

The days and weeks and months that followed that phone call were filled with so much pain and fear. I rarely left his side. I barely ate and only had snippets of broken sleep. The ICU nurses were amazing. They were kind and compassionate to us and skilled in their care of my son.

My heart is breaking for the family of the young man who died. I can't even begin to imagine their pain. My heart is also breaking for the families of the other two victims. I have a pretty good idea of what they are going through. I couldn't help but wonder if they've had some of the same nurses my son had ... and I knew they were answering the same questions that I had asked ... the same questions everyone asks when they get that call ... and I know what the answers are. The doctors and nurses can offer hope, but no guarantee's.

I don't know that I will ever get over the shock and pain and helpless confusion I felt standing at my son's bedside, watching that machine breathe for him while countless drugs and medications dripped into his arm through his IVs. I wondered if he'd ever wake up. I wondered if he'd be able to speak or walk again. I wondered if he would remember me and his sisters and his life before. I wondered if he would recover enough to go back to his old life or if the future would be feeding tubes or wheelchairs or a nursing home. Seeing your child in that condition does something to you. I'm not sure I'll ever recover from that experience. The pain is still raw.

It is my sincere prayer that the injured teens make a full recovery, and do so quickly. I hope the drunk driver who hit them is punished as severely as the law allows, but he suffered life-threatening injuries ... and there is no guarantee he'll recover enough to answer for what he has done.

Last weekend's accident was just another senseless tragedy. One stupid decision ... or a series of stupid decisions ... and countless lives are changed forever.

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