Saturday, January 5, 2013


This week, when Stanford went to the Rose Bowl, I started thinking about the last time that Stanford made the trek to Pasadena.  I was a freshman in college and about to try out for the school's dance team so I watched the five girls that were currently on the team walk down Colorado Boulevard with particular interest.  Over the next few years, some of those girls became my friends and part of my best college memories.

After graduation, one such friend moved to LA and was killed by a drunk driver just before Christmas. I've previously written about the collision here.  I got to wondering whether the driver, who had been found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, with a minimum prison term of 30 years to life, had appealed.  Of course he had; and Google quickly led me to the opinion of the appellate court.

I learned from the opinion that the driver had been at a holiday party where complimentary cab vouchers were given to guests, but that he had chosen to drive himself home instead.  That broke my heart.  There were many small mistakes that led to the collision, but foregoing the cab voucher was among the less forgivable.

Still, I stand by what I previously wrote this about the driver:

But let's also realize that it was a tragedy for the drunk driver. It was wrong of him to drive drunk (especially given two prior misdemeanor DUIs in 1998 and 2004). He had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit an hour after he killed two young people in a collision. He messed up, in the worst way possible. I don't know this man, but it must be terribly difficult for him to live with himself knowing that he killed two people because of his own foolishness.
And also:
Don't we all know someone, who we probably consider a good person on most days, who has gotten a DUI? It is perhaps only by the grace of God that one drunk driver walks away with only a DUI while another causes a fatal collision. If you have driven drunk, you are lucky not to have found yourself in this man's shoes.
To reinforce that point, one of the key issues on appeal was whether evidence of the blood alcohol content of the driver of the car my friend had been in had been properly excluded.  Everyone had been drinking.  Everyone decided to get in their cars.  Some survived and some did not.

The opinion went on to discuss whether the trial court erred in admitting crime scene photographs of the victims into evidence.  This means that the appellate court examined, and described in detail, the related photograph of my friend, lying on the sidewalk where paramedics had given up hope of reviving her.  I looked away from the computer screen and thought of all of the great memories I had of her in life and could hardly believe that it ended that way.

The driver, if you're curious, lost his appeal.  Everyone lost, really.  We miss her very much.


CP said...

So tragic. I think you have a very good perspective on this. Society demonizes drunk drivers, with good reason, but it IS crazy how people can make the same mistake and some are unharmed while others can cause the death of others. I have thought about this so many times.

It's scary to think that every time I go out on the road, despite my OWN precautions, I could be injured by another.

So sorry about your friend. It is just so tragic.

Anonymous said...

Very sorry for your loss. :(