Sheena Blair DUI

Moving Sheena's Spirit Forward

Sheena Blair DUI - Moving Sheena's Spirit Forward

Our Visit With a Very Special Firefighter

Today Carol and I went on a trip to Everett to meet with, thank and hug the firefighter who took such special care of Sheena as she passed. We learned of him and his story last spring and we finally got together. We met with him and four others who responded to the wreck that killed her and Tony. We met at the fire station. There were at least six to eight people in the room as we spent an hour talking about that night from our perspective and of course from their perspective. Among the professionals in the room was a Battalion Chief.

When we first sat at the table Scott started tearing up. I handed him a Kleenex. This reaction told us a LOT about his character. Scott is the one who took charge of Sheena. He felt her pulse, it was weak and she wasn’t breathing very well. He bagged her, they started an IV. He stayed with her and comforted her as they cut and pried her from the wreckage. Tony died instantly. It took about ten minutes to get Sheena out of the car. They wanted to get her to Harborview. She coded on the way so she went to Providence in Everett. You know how that part of the story ends.

We learned a LOT today. Sheena was not conscious or terrified, she was not calling out for us and she was NOT alone. This caring professional was NOT going to give up on her, he was going to assure her that people were doing their best to get her out and calmly stayed with her. He never left her when she finally was extracted from her car he held her in his arms and got her into the ambulance. He was with her when she coded he held her hand as she passed. He told us that he did what he KNEW we would have done had we been there. He did what he would want another firefighter to do if HIS daughter were in a similar circumstance. (God forbid)

We also learned that those seemingly faceless professionals who respond to these horrid wrecks DO care. They care a LOT. To this day, almost three years after THIS wreck, the fact that a big, burly man like Scott still tears up when he saw us makes clear that there is still beauty and honor in this world. That there ARE angels in the world and they don’t always LOOK like angels, sometimes they look like big, burly men.

Our visit with these compassionate professionals today did NOT make our pain go away. BUT it DID make this whole awful situation just a little easier to bear. Thank you and God Speed Station One EFD.

It’s Just a Little Tree

little-tree

It’s just a little tree.

I transplanted it from our daycare. It was a gift from a dear parent who gave it to us after Sheena was killed by a drunk driver. When we left the business, we made arrangements for another dear friend to bring it to us when it would stand the best chance of surviving the move, she brought it over last night.

It is hard to dig a hole when your eyes are full of tears. I didn’t expect this reaction. I was just planting a little tree, but it is Sheena’s little tree. It brought it all back. Especially how much I miss her and that our life will never be the same.

I dug the hole in silence, except for the sniffing sound  I was making and the shovel doing it’s work. After the hole was big enough, I saged the site, paying special attention to tribute to Natosi (the Sun) and our Mother, the earth. I cleansed myself, the little tree and the place where I was asking Mother Earth to hold it’s roots tight and nurture it with her bosom. I then made an offering and returned the little tree to the earth. After making tribute and respect to the four quarters of the world, I said a final prayer and walked away. Natosi warmed us with his warmth and bright light with blue skies overhead. Now that the little tree is in it’s place, I see that Thunder Being seems to be sending clouds from the west to provide rain to water and nourish Sheena’s little tree.

Next time you are out celebrating life with your alcohol, and you are reaching for your keys, please remember this story and Sheena’s little tree and just…..don’t do it.

DUI Working Group

I am going to Roger Goodman’s (D-45) Impaired Driving Working group tomorrow morning to hammer out some new and tweak some existing DUI legislation. I have been attending these meetings for a couple years now. LOTS of stakeholders from judges, prosecutors, Law Enforcement, defense lawyers, treatment experts, state crime lab, interlock device companies, Traffic Safety Commission, legislators and some times victim family members of those killed by this atrocity.

A couple folks who were at our summit a couple weeks ago will be there. A couple items that were discussed that day are on the agenda. AND I am taking my dear friend Stacy Emerson with me so she can see how sometimes people can work TOGETHER to do good things that help people. I can remember trying to work with neighborhood groups or Dem Party to do things. It can be frustrating to the point of throwing up your hands (OR your lunch)  and just saying to HELL with it. Well I WON’T say to hell with it, I’ll just start working with serious adults.

Home safe bar program Aug 25th

We went out again last night with Sargent Thompson Puyallup Police Department and a couple officers to visit bars on 6th Ave as well as Pacific Ave. 6th Ave wasn’t as busy as usual but we managed to actually go INTO the bars and this time Carol and I walked around to the tables and talked to some of the patrons. We showed them Sheena’s picture and told them who we were and that we hope they would be safe and not drive impaired. Almost everyone we talked to had been touched by DUI death. A LOT of tables had a designated driver. We shook their hands and thanked them profusely.

Pacific Avenue has a couple bars that were VERY busy. We went to one bar that had just had one of their satisfied customers arrested for DUI. We happened to be at the mobile impaired driver unit when the officer arrived with the handcuffed customer. The officer said that the guy had a tail light out and was weaving that his driving was terrible. When we went to the bar it was packed with young people. I remarked to Sargent Thompson that the bar was FULL of Sheenas. Pretty, young ladies having fun. THAT’S OK. As long as they don’t drive. All in all it was a fairly quiet night at least for US. But because it was a bit quieter, we could spend more time with the folks we want to reach. We hope we did.

Thursday, a day in the life of anti-DUI activists

I didn’t want to write about our Thursday until I had it all confirmed. At 9:00 Am we will meet with Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor and two other officials from the Sheriff’s office, an official from the Washington traffic Safety Commission and a couple folks from Tacoma Trauma trust to consider the formation of a foundation to pay for cab rides for people who find themselves impaired at a bar. This is an idea Carol have had for quite some time, but without the credibility of people and entities to help us move this idea forward, it has remained a dream. We hope to find a way to move forward on this idea.

After the meeting we will leave for Everett to meet with and thank the firefighter who was with Sheena that….night. He stayed with her as his colleagues cut Sheena from the wreckage of her car. Apparently, he called his wife after leaving the scene VERY upset by the wreck and despite his best efforts, Sheena passed. He STILL is affected by the scene that night. It is VERY unusual for people they save to ever thank them for their efforts. It is unheard of for someone whose family member passes to ever say ANYthing to them much less thank them. This dedicated professional was where I wish I was that night. It’s the LEAST we can do. It’s too bad what we are going to do is so unusual.

We confirmed all this as we found a lot of Sheena’s stuff in Amy’s closet and had our hearts broken yet again. Our goal in all we do is to prevent others from having days like this. We hope to make more progress on this goal Thursday.

WSP Video

A couple months ago Carol and I were approached by the Washington State Patrol to participate in a training video they are producing as a DUI training tool for law enforcement agencies. They wanted a couple victim’s families to tell our stories in order to motivate officers to engage and arrest more DUIs. Although it MAY seem like a slam-dunk, many patrol officers are hesitant to actually arrest DUIs because the process pulls them off the street for three hours. Booking, paperwork, court messes. All that kind of stuff.

Carol and I sat there in front of the camera with those little mics hooked up to us and just dumped our guts out for 45 minutes. We started with that….night. The unanswered texts, the knock on the door, Carol and Amy screaming and the post-it note the deputy handed me with SnoCO medical Examiner’s number on it. We told of the Clark County Deputy collision investigator we heard testify that those notifications are like knocking on someone’s door and tossing a hand grenade in their house.

Then we talked about writing your child’s obituary, planning her service, how her classmates had such a shocked look on their faces. People their age are supposed to get married, divorced have children, have miscarriages, get jobs etc. They are NOT supposed to die. I told them of going up to Sheena’s room to get some photos and finding her hoodie with the shirt inside, holding it to my face and I could smell her. It was almost like I was hugging her. I thought My GOD! Is this normal? Am I losing it?

We told them of Amy. That she still has meltdowns. She always says the same thing. “Why Sheena?” I can’t answer that. She says “It’s not FAIR!!” I can’t argue with that. I always had the reassurance that when we die, Sheena would be here to look after her little sister. That went away that night. My brother never had children, Amy can’t HAVE children. That night the Blair name died with Sheena. 600 people came to Sheena’s service, 400 went to Tony’s. That’s 1000 people besides us who had their lives affected.

Then we were asked how we would motivate officers to DO the DUI arrests. I reminded them that vehicular homicide is a violent crime, that they are NOT accidents and then I gave them a couple “what-ifs”. What if an officer had noticed that woman swerve over the fog line or going a little UNDER the speed limit and pulled her over. We would not be sitting there with broken hearts. What if an officer was following her and she swerved a little and did NOT get pulled over because the officer didn’t want to screw with the paperwork? How would that officer feel if they found out that vehicle later killed two people and permanently maimed two others?

We were asked what our memories of her are. I told of when she was born the nurse handed me this screaming bundle. When our eyes met for the first time, she stopped crying. I knew at that moment she was a daddy’s girl. I remember when she was a toddler she would fall asleep on my lap and I could feel her breath on my chest. I can still feel her little hands gripping my fingers when she was taking her first steps. How I could make her laugh SO hard, she would sit there silent with her mouth wide open and tears running down her face until I would poke her to make her breath. We had the type of bond that when we were just sitting there we would know what the other was thinking.

I miss her staunch advocacy for those who are picked on and her passion for the underdog. I miss her laughter and being her confidant. The world will never know what she could have accomplished had someone been able to intervene that night. IF I would have told her one more joke, IF I had hugged her again, IF I had said I love you one more time that…. night.

We poured our guts out for 45 minutes. They might use a couple minutes. Maybe none of what we said. IF they decide to use ANY of it, I pray it might motivate that ONE officer to pull that ONE person over that might save that ONE family from have an officer knock on THEIR door and toss that horrid hand grenade in THEIR house.