I didn’t think I would be posting about a DUI wreck THIS soon.This guy absolutely knows better. I’m thinking that he has probably known and maybe even helped families like ours. I am very glad that nobody was hurt or killed. Law enforcement HAS to be held to a higher standard. I hope he gets the help he needs and the demotion he deserves.
It’s been a while since I have posted here. That is going to change. Most DUI issues I come across, I post on facebook. From now moving forward those issues will be posted here and then linked to my Facebook page. I hope you will follow this site.
I did an impact panel tonight. At the conclusion the participants are asked to fill out evaluation forms about the speakers. I usually wait by the door to take the forms and shake hands with them. Most times they thank us and hug us. Tonight as I was standing by the door, a big guy, obviously a Pacific Islander, Hawaiian by the look of his tatts and brown skin motioned me into the hallway. I went out there with him and he looked both ways to make sure we were alone. He told me he was born and raised in Hawaii in a very traditional way. The small town where he lived, the name escapes me, and his family practiced old traditional ways including learning hakas. He told me of maha, a kind of vision or ability to see auras or spirits of those who are no longer with us. He said that as I spoke of Sheena he could see a VERY strong maha of her moving around the room and especially when I spoke of her as a little girl. He said that he saw her stand behind me and she put her hands on my shoulders as if to give me the strength to get the words out. He said that her presence was SO strong, SO present and the strongest presence he has ever felt that it made the hair on his arms and the back of his neck stand straight up and sent chills up his back. I told him I DID notice him squirming and rubbing his arms I thought he was cold. ” NO Brudda” he said. She was there as plain and clear as if she was actually standing right there.
I admit that I DO feel her with me when I do these things but I thought it was just me. When I leave to do impact panels I put her poster up front with me and I say out loud., ” Let’s go get em Sweety”. I KNOW she’s there and I’m really glad someone else noticed her too.
A friend and I are working on something we hope will be helpful to families like ours. It’s in the planning phase but pretty far along. Keeping our fingers crossed.
Sometimes I DO encounter the darndest things when I do impact panels. Yesterday morning after we were done a nice lady walked up and told me that she had seen Carol and I at a bar she worked at when we were out with the PC DUI Task Force doing home safe bar visits. This bar had a less than stellar record for coding DUIs. She said that I had given her my card while she was working security. ANYway, she said that they had met with Liquor Control at LEAST once a month and they trained the CRAP out of their wait staff and their patrons STILL managed to get on their lips drunk. They had Uber on speed dial, they would even PAY for the ride sometimes. But she said they couldn’t legally take their keys away. Then she said that the owner sold the place because they were SO uncomfortable serving alcohol and that they felt they were living on borrowed time. This bar also had an outdoor hotdog stand and served food up until pretty much closing time. I always felt that they were doing their best. Hospitality is a WAY hard business to do right. You HAVE to sell alcohol to make money but if you serve TOO much someone is going to get hurt or killed.
THEN I was telling her about ANOTHER bar near there that didn’t seem to care WHAT we, the cops OR Liquor Board said they made NO effort. Then ANOTHER young lady said “You mean *****” . Yes and I told her what a dick the owner and his son were. She said YEAH. That’s where she had been drinking the night she got HER DUI. She said that the son overpours to young women in hopes of “getting in their pants”. She said he was CONSTANTLY putting the make on all the women who go there. JAYSUS. Thought so.
I am NOT saying that ALL bars are bad and don’t care about their patrons. Quite the opposite actually. Carol and I, in the couple years we were VERY active, were seeing a VERY positive trend among the customers. There would be whole tables of young people having a whoop up and one person sitting with a glass of ice water as a designated driver. More and more people are using a cab or UBER type ride services to get TO the bars and then taking them home safely.So there IS a light at the end of this long dark tunnel. And it seems to be getting brighter all the time.
We went to Everett today, we try to get up there at least once or twice a year. We always go to the DUI Victim memorial wall at McCollum park. Carol usually brings a flower I always lay down some tobacco and leave a pepperoni stick. Sheena LOVED pepperoni sticks. We then went to a Safeway where Carol got some pretty spring flowers and we visited Sheena and Tony’s “Please don’t drink and drive” sign where they were both killed on Broadway under the 41st street overpass. THAT is hard. Seeing where this happened makes us sad and angry. Again.
We then were lucky enough to meet with the two most special people who were SO supportive throughout the Criminal justice part of this whole mess. The traffic Sargent and the Traffic investigative Detective of the Everett Police Department. These two gentlemen were SO good about keeping us in the loop during the investigation. They were also VERY supportive of us during court hearings. We would ask what to expect and they told us. They were right every time. When I called and mentioned that the victim advocate from the prosecutor’s office was not only NOT helpful but just ignored our calls and wouldn’t show up at court hearings, we weren’t even shown where the damn courtrooms were. When we went up to the hearing where the offender changed her plea from not guilty to guilty, they met us at the door and escorted us to the courtroom. They were also joined by eight uniformed police officers and two detectives. Quite an entourage. As we walked down the halls people would whisper “JEESUS. I wonder what THEY did”. They are very impressed and admirable of our actions in the state legislature, like helping to triple the sentencing guidelines for vehicular homicide. We are just as impressed of their professionalism and sensitivity in their dealings with us. We would have NEVER made it through all this without them.
Since this has happened to us we have met and worked with a LOT of AMAZING people. We have become friends with REALLY smart people in state agencies who LIVE this stuff, for whom traffic safety and prevention of deaths and injuries on our hiways is a mission. We have been places and been with high placed elected officials and high ranking military officers we never dreamed of ever being with in the same room. Goodness knows we have been in front of TV cameras and radio appearances trying EVERYTHING we can to make a difference and move Sheena’s spirit forward.
But at the end of the day we know why all this is happening. As inspiring as all the people we work with are, the pain we feel over Sheena’s loss is always present. We think of her every day. After a trip like today we ARE sad AND angry. This has left a huge hole in our hearts. And we miss her deeply in our guts. It doesn’t get easier. Never will.
I was driving Sheena’s little sister Amy to her volunteer job at the Pierce County Humane Society when out of the blue she asked me, “Are you guys going to be around for a while?” I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant at first. Then she brought up that Sheena had always promised to watch out for her after we died. Now she’s gone and now Amy doesn’t know who is going to look after when we die. She doesn’t know this, but it’s ONE of many things that cause my eyes to snap open in the middle of the night.
I wasn’t sure exactly how to answer. The EASY way would have been to just say that we will ALWAYS be there for her and to not worry. She has disabilities but she’s NOT stupid. So I just told her that we had no control of when we pass on. We HOPE to be here for a long time. She added “You ARE getting up there ya know”………. Hard to argue with that.Then I told her that a LOT of people love her in at LEAST twenty states and at LEAST four countries. I told her that she doesn’t have ONE big sister anymore,she has dozens. She seemed to get it. I didn’t lie to her, I couldn’t. We are people of modest means and we do NOT have a million dollar trust fund set up for her. I DO worry.
Of COURSE the reason we are even HAVING this discussion is because of a damn drunk driver. SHE will get out of prison and move on. We won’t. SHE will have grandchildren someday, WE won’t. A few beers, a couple glasses of wine, a couple drinks a couple hits from a bong. Sounds innocent enough. It is NOT. Amy damn near broke my heart today. Is this “normal”? It is now for US at least. Although I think about stuff like this all the time now, this caught me off guard. Thanks Camille.
It’s been five years since we lost Sheena to a drunk driver. Five years may seem like a long time. It’s not. We are just as sad, just as shocked, just as devastated. We continue to struggle as we do our best to move forward. We will also continue to do all we can to stop impaired people from killing our families. Please help any way you can.
I found this message when I accidentally checked my “other” file on Facebook instant messenger. It TOTALLY caught me off guard especially as I was starting to question whether our activism was having any effect and if it was maybe time to slow down. This young woman in a few very well written and heartfelt paragraphs restored our faith in what we do AND the younger generation. I have this person’s permission to publish her note, name withheld of course.
Sept ’14 I was arrested for a dui. Hands down the most horrifying and thankful moment of my life. Since the arrest it’s been a roller coaster of emotions. Happiness that I’m still alive, and anger because I made such an awful choice that put not only myself, but everyone else on the road in danger. Hearing your story really touched me.
Long story (kind of) short, I come from a family of alcoholism. I was raised by a single mother who suffered from alcohol addiction until I was 11 years old. I am 23 now. She has been sober for about 10 years which I am more than proud of her for. My mother and I are closer than ever now. Growing up basically learning to numb any pain with booze hasn’t done me well. I’d been through rehab at 16 years as well as AA.
When you spoke about Sheenas friend who was “into slipknot” I couldn’t help but smile inside because it reminded me of myself when I was younger. I was that kid who also was into slipknot and had no clue what the heck I was doing. I have a friend who was with me throughout my “dark” phase, and we are still great friends. She always wants to help me, and encourages me to make good choices. That friend reminds me of your girl Sheena.
Another part of your story that made me think about the choices I’ve made in life relate to not having a father. Seeing how close you and Sheena are and the adorable stories about the bubble lawn mower and Sheena saving the worms just made my heart melt with happiness. Sheena is so incredibly lucky to have you as a father as well as your other daughter. I’ve never known what having a father would be like, but I do know that if I did have a father, I’d want him to be like you. (I hope this isn’t strange).
One last thing… You spoke about how Sheena always liked to help people, and save her worm friends from being the bait (ha ha). I am a huge animal activist. Unfortunately animals cannot speak for themselves so Id like to speak for them, and help them. If that makes any sense. Whenever I’m not working full time, I spread the word of anti captivity, Killer whales and other cetaceans in general. If I can’t ban captivity, spreading my awareness will.
I do feel as if I’m rambling now. And I hope I haven’t offended you or creeped you out. I printed out an article about Sheena and have it folded nicely the center consul of my car. I thank god every single time I get back into my car for granting me a second chance in life. I also think of your family and Sheena.
I will be done with the legal process of my DUI this February. I shared with my boyfriend how moved and touched I felt by your story. I would love to hear your story again but this time with my love to a future VIP at Tukwila’s North Star so he can hear your story as well. Please let me know when you will speak again at this location Frank. Your story has touched me beyond belief and I promise To myself and the entire world that I will absolutely never operate a vehicle again while under the influence.