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.
I was just asked to speak to a group of Washington State Patrol troopers on Friday January 30th. I was asked to give them kind of a pep talk to motivate them before they go out hunting for DUIs.I have done this a couple of times and I really LOVE being asked to do this. I will tell them about Sheena and how and where she and Tony died. I will tell them what that horrid knock on the door is like from OUR side of the door. I will also share with them that they are intervening in these impaired driver’s lives BEFORE they kill someone………They are actually blessing them with a second (sometimes MORE) chance. In THAT they are actually angels. Not all of them may LOOK like angels but in our hearts that’s exactly what they are. Looking forward to speaking to these law enforcement officers.
Last night Carol and I went out with the Target Zero Team Home Safe Bar Program. We spent the whole evening in the City of Puyallup and there were a LOT of people who were celebrating. We were riding with TWO police Chiefs. Chief Jeter from Puyallup and Chief Cheesman from Fircrest. There were also two Liquor Control Agents with us as well.
A couple things stood out. Most of the bars were packed. Carol went around to the tables, mostly talked to young folks. She handed them a Target Zero Team slim jim and asked who the designated driver was and then let them know that there were fifty patrol officers JUST in Puyallup looking for impaired drivers. The good thing is that more than half HAD a DD.
One of the Liquor Control Agents found herself in a bit of a quandary. An impaired man approached her and asked her to dance and offered to buy her dinner….. So does the fact that he asked her to dance show impairment? She quietly asked the servers to cut him off and we left. And had a GOOD laugh.
Later we were standing in front of Bumpies when we noticed an SUV driving down the street without his lights on. The bouncer laughed and wondered if that guy knew he was driving like that in front of TWO Police Chiefs. I looked over at Carol and was wondering if a patrol officer had seen him. At that second a police car went ZOOOMM right after him. He got pulled over. Here’s a clue. Driving without your lights on at night is like holding a steak in front of a starving lion to a DUI patrol officer.
I also talked with the Puyallup Police officer who arrested the wife of the Mayor of Puyallup. It IS who I thought it was. I told him that it took a lot of guts to DO that. He just kind of laughed and told me HEY, drive sober or get pulled over. Simple. No matter WHO it is.
The Twisted Kilt on Meridian had a HUGE heated tent in the ALLY with a live band and hundreds of revelers having a great time. The owner told us that he PAYS for cab rides if someone is persistent and he thinks would pose a danger. He felt that it’s more important to keep the community safe than the few bucks to get someone home safe. We see some bar owners who are NOT good stewards of the hospitality business but this guy is NOT one of them. ROCK on.
As we were leaving there was a young man and his girlfriend getting into a taxi, he was QUITE “Irished up”. Chief Cheesman and I shook his hand, Carol hugged and thanked him. He said as he was trying to get into the back seat, ” Are you KIDDING?? TWENTY bucks? Hell I could drink THAT up in ten minutes!! Ten thousand bucks and a DUI??? Twenty bucks?? Think it OVER DUDE!” I agree. Think it over dude,
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.