May 30, 2008 started out like any other day. I woke up and called my niece to see if she wanted to go to a movie. While I was waiting at her house for her to get ready, my daughter Amanda called to see if she could go to the movies with us. After a nice day of lunch and a movie, I dropped my daughter off at work. Little did I know this would be the last time I would see my daughter walking and talking. After a long day, I went home and went to bed.
Around 3 AM, I was woken up by the chaplain of Via Christi informing me that my youngest daughter Amanda had been in a car wreck. She said that I needed to come to the hospital as soon as I could. I went and woke up my middle daughter and called my husband at work. I remember walking around in a daze looking for my jeans when my daughter stopped me to let me know that they were in my hands. As I walked out to my car, I realized that the chaplain had only told me Via Christi. Was it St. Joe or St. Francis? I called the switch board operator and got the shock of my life. Amanda was in the surgical ICU at St. Francis. I remember not being able to breathe. My daughter helped me to the car and she drove us to the hospital.
When I got to the hospital they would not let me see her. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity before being allowed to see my daughter. When I walked into the room, I must have turned white because one of the nurses grabbed me and handed me a box of tissues. Part of her head was shaved so they could enter a tube into her head. They had her on a ventilator machine. She was not able to breathe on her own and she was in a coma.
I later found out that she had been riding in the car with her boyfriend. He had been drinking. She tried, but was not able to drive his car because it was a stick-shift, so they decided that he would drive home. He had stopped his truck and was playing around with one foot on the brake and gas at the same time to spin his wheels. When he went to peel out, he lost control of his truck and the back end of the truck whipped around and hit a pole. The sheriff deputy told me that she had hit the pole going approximately 100 miles an hour.
She stayed in a coma for nine days and on the ninth day the doctors explained that they cannot get her oxygen level over 60 percent. She had developed ARDS (Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome) which meant her lungs were stiffening up. The doctors explained that due to ARDS her organs would shut down. We had to make the decision to turn off her ventilator.
Amanda’s boyfriend has never taken responsibility for her death. He told everyone that she did not die from the car accident, but from pneumonia. He pled guilty, because he was offered nine months at Labette, which was a boot camp for criminals. Due to budget cuts, they closed down Labette and he had to go for sentencing. The judge gave him the maximum of 45 months.
I have always taught my kids there are consequences for our actions. My daughter’s choice was to get into a car with someone who had been drinking when she was completely sober, and her consequence was death. He chose to get behind the wheel to drive and his consequence was prison.
Growing up with a family of alcoholics, I saw the consequences of alcohol: a father who neglected his family, a cousin who lost his life to a DUI accident and an uncle who has had more DUI’s than I can count on my right hand. Bepagecause of my family history and Amanda’s death, I choose to speak on the DUI Victim Panel in the hopes that one person in the audience will understand the consequents of getting behind a wheel of a car after drinking. ~Kelly Rice