Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

The Enabler

They were friends and classmates, each girl 18 years old and two weeks from high school graduation when they went for a ride after school.  The driver inexplicitly pulled out from a stop sign on a county road and started to cross a busy U.S. highway into the path of a semi-tractor trailer, which crashed into the passenger side of the car, instantly killing the passenger.  The driver survived.  Her injuries were not serious.

The parents of the girl who died belonged to our church.  They came to me to represent them in the wrongful death case.

Understandably, they were grief-stricken.  Their Christian faith and community of friends comforted them.  Still, they struggled to come to grips with the tragedy. They wisely went to grief counseling.  Their out-of-pocket charges amounted to something around $400.00.  Money well spent.

We recovered all the liability insurance available.  That is my job.  They generously used the money to set up a foundation in honor of their daughter.  The foundation provides scholarships for students at the university she would have attended;  the driver did attend that same school where the friends had planned to go together.  They had planned to stay friends in college.  They had looked forward to that next stage of life.   Sadly, that was not to be.

The young driver faced some charges.  I think it was “careless driving resulting in death.”  At the sentencing hearing, the District Attorney asked for some restitution.  Although we had recovered substantial money in the civil case, the criminal case is separate.  The settlement money came from the insurance company for the driver who caused the collision.  The criminal case is for punishing the defendant driver.  The parents of the girl she killed attended the sentencing.  They did not want revenge.  They told the D.A. they did not want their daughter’s friend to go to jail.   I told the D.A. before the sentencing that it would be a nice gesture for the defendant to be required to pay for the grief counseling as a condition of probation.  It was not much money, but would be appropriate and even symbolic.  The D.A. agreed.

So, at the sentencing, the D.A. recommended that the defendant pay $400 to the parents as restitution for the grief counseling sessions.  The mother of the defendant was also present.  She addressed the court, “My daughter can’t pay that.  She is in college and is in a sorority.  She needs all the money she made this summer for those expenses.”  Apparently, this mother had no empathy for the mother and father who lost their daughter through the fault of HER DAUGHTER.  Apparently, she saw her daughter as some kind of victim for being asked to pay $400 that she would rather spend on sorority fun.  And that is what she is teaching her daughter, rather than the hard lesson that there are consequences to one’s actions, rather than the importance of remorse.

The daughter who died in the accident did not get to attend college and party at a sorority.

Parents, teach your children, starting when they are around two years old, that when they hurt someone, they need to learn to say, “I’m sorry.”

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18 thoughts on “The Enabler

  1. I am always amazed at how most people can rationalize anything in the face of the obvious. It makes me so sad, they couldn’t see the gift, and graciousness they were offered.

    I hope people read this and get a clue.

  2. Reblogged this on Ramblings and Musings and commented:
    An important message. Why it is important to be humble, responsible, and recognize the efforts and graciousness we are surrounded with daily.

    We are often given gifts, may we have open eyes to recognize them.

  3. This is beyond heartbreaking.

  4. Wow. I cant even imagine that kind of selfishness and disregard for another mother’s suffering due to my child’s carelessness…hard to wrap my brain around that…

  5. I am actually in tears reading this. Restitution is a Biblical concept. Restitution is always appropriate, even when we did not mean for a certain outcome.

    My son was involved in a serious accident this summer. He ran a stop sign with his bicycle. He was life-flighted to a trauma center where he spent 10 days in ICU in a coma. We did not know if he would make it. He did (and has almost completely recovered). While in the hospital, the couple whose three week old pick up truck he hit visited to see if he was OK. I was so proud of my 18 year old who could barely walk, but who asked how he could amend for their damages. The couple had never even submitted a claim to their insurance, not wanting us to be inconvenienced.

    After two days at home, the Sheriff who was at the scene came to deliver my son a ticket in person (He had not sent it in the mail, not knowing if my son would live). He apologized when he handed it to him, but we assured the officer that it was right to give a ticket since this was a part of making it right and paying restitution. My son paid it in full … with his own money.

    The officer told my husband at this visit that he remembered us so well, because my husband had gone back to the accident scene to speak with the couple in the truck. My husband knew there was nothing he could do for our son, knowing I was with him. Instead of going to the hospital, he went back to check on the couple to assure them it had not been their fault. He got their numbers and made sure they got up-dates on our son’s condition.

    I believe, what we teach the next generation will come around and will directly affect us. We best make sure they’re the right lessons.

    Thanks for this great post, blogging friend.

  6. Since then I have often thought about why it’s so hard to admit when we are wrong. In our case that was the very best thing we could have done for the folks who just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

  7. Why the mother doesn’t realize the mistake of her own daughter’s actions?

    >

  8. What an injustice. And what an irresponsible mother. Thank you for sharing this with us…in your line of work I have a feeling you have many more.

  9. That is a second tragedy in this case. Need I say more.

  10. Doing ‘the right thing’ no matter the personal cost is a mark of good character.

  11. How did the judge rule ??

  12. Sounds like the girls parents were not taught by their parents. It’s sad that bad instruction is handed down from generation to generation just like good instruction is. I wonder if this girl will continue to hand it down,

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