The man who killed my cousin is going to jail.

As some of you may remember, my young cousin (18) was killed last Christmas season by a drunk driver. This was (not surprisingly) rather upsetting for the entire family.

Well, the man who did it plead guilty and has been sentenced to five years in jail.

This doesn’t make me happy, although not for the reasons many people seem to think.

The results of the accident include 2 young women dead (one my cousin), one young man lost his arm, one young man (my other cousin) watched his sister decapitated and his girlfriend’s body severed in half, and now this young man is going to jail for 5 years.

He’s 23. He should be thinking about University or College, not starting hard time. (I believe the length of the sentence is such that he will be in a prison, as opposed to a jail.)

This is what I want to say:

The difference between this young man, and anyone else that has had a few too many and then driven, is luck. That is the ONLY difference.

He’s not a monster. He’s not a horrible person. He’s not a nameless, faceless beast that distroyed part of my family.

He’s just a young guy, that had a few drinks, got behind the wheel and drove too fast.

It all comes down to luck.

Please remember this in the upcoming holiday season, K?

I know that I’m sounding preachy, but I would really hate for another family to have to go through this.

It’s not preachy, alice-not-really. I can’t think of anyone I know who hasn’t lost someone due to drunk driving. I think it’s a hazard of living.

Wow, alice, that sounds remarkably similar to what my family has gone through in the past few months.

In may my two cousins, 18 and 19 were killed when the car they were in, driven by another life-long friend of theirs, somehow managed to lose control and skid off the road. The car was eventually flattened. One of my cousins was killed immediately. The other was thrown from the car. He managed to call the mother of the dead child from his cell phone. It took police three hours to find the accident scene, by which time my cousin who was thrown from the car had died.

The driver of the car, lifelong best friend to both boys, survived. Only a week prior he had gotten his car back after being busted for DWI. Blood tests showed he was well above the legal limit.

He was in critical condition for a month. Now he’s facing two charges of manslaughter. He’s only 18.

I can neither be happy nor sad to hear that he will likely spend the next 12 - 20 years in jail, if convicted.

Like you, I’ve come to the realization that ‘There but for the grace of God …’

I know I sure as hell pulled some stupid stunts in my day. When I was that age, sure, I understood the risks. But I thought I could handle it. So did my cousin’s friend. Apparently he ran out of luck.

Thank you for sharing your story, alice.

It’s luck in that any driver who is drunk has this type of potential. There was, of course, an element of choice involved over getting behind the wheel of the car.

unfortunately too many folks don’t believe they’re not in control until circumstances occur which demonstrates it effectively. I’ve chosen for the past 25 years to not drive when I’ve had anything to drink, just to avoid situations like the above. This does mean, of course, that I don’t hang out w/co-workers at bars after work and drink. But w/o a set up in advance sober driver to get me home, I’ll forgo.

my sympathies to you and your family, as well as to the young man and his. (yes, you’re right in most jurisdictions he’ll be in a prison vs. a jail. there are, however, more opportunities for counseling and other types of programs IME at the prison level vs. jail 'cause of the numbers of prisoners and length of sentences, though)

It’s not luck. However sorry I am for your loss (and I am), if you are imbibing alcohol and decide to drive even a quarter mile, you had best do it at or below the speed limit. The velocity required to sever and decapitate human bodies presupposes an unusually high rate of speed. This indicates an extreme degree of recklessness and culpability on the driver’s part. He should have received much more than a mere five years for his crimes.

Again, my heart goes out to you and your family, alice. Such a senseless waste of human life is not only regretful, it is intolerable.

This is absolutely true. However, the difference between this guy and someone who has never gotten behind the wheel of a car while drunk is immense.

I’m sorry for your loss, alice. But I have to say that, based on your OP, you are a far kinder and more forgiving person than I could ever be.

alice_in_wonderland, you are a sensible person and a good person.

I’m sure this will be an unpopular opinion, but luck had nothing to do with it. It would have been “lucky” had he made it home with no problems.

He chose to drink, he chose to drive and the passengers chose to ride with him. They are all paying the price for poor decision-making. People need to stop blaming “luck” or “fate” or the “will of some sky-pilot” and take some responsibility for thier actions.

That statement is so true.

When I was young, about 4 years old, my dad was involved in an accident. He got behind the wheel drunk and hit another car. It resulted in the death of a lady that was seven months pregnant. It also resulted in my dad missing out on a big part of my childhood because he spent time in jail for it (I can’t say for how long because I don’t very many details about the situation). One of my most prominent memories about my dad from my childhood is of visiting him in jail and playing I Spy. That’s not a very good memory for a kid to have when they’re young.

My dad isn’t a horrible person. He’s been the best dad I could ever ask for. He did however made a really horrible mistake. He had problems with drinking and driving before then and it’s terrible that it took the death of someone else to cure him of his problem. But it did. He learned his lesson. He learned it in the worst way possible, but he learned it. He’s not taken a drink since then.

I’m sure there’s not been a day that goes by that he doesn’t regret what happened. I hope one day I can work up the courage to ask him about it so I’ll finally know all the details and really know the reason why I don’t have many memories of my father from my childhood.

I hope this young man learned his lesson like my dad did so he can have a shot at life once he gets out of prison.

I’m sorry for your loss alice.

I’ve just got to say that I think you are a very brave and forgiving person, Alice.



I wouldn’t put too much into the word choice “Luck”. My read of the OP is that anyone who drinks and drives is playing a deadly game of chance, that can easily end up in tragedy.

the unfortunate reality from my perspective is that too few people have any realistic idea that they’re too drunk to drive. they all ‘feel fine’. and they continue to think they were fine right up until it’s demonstrated physically and sometimes tragically, that they weren’t.

My point about luck, which some of you seem to have missed, is this:

I have heard people bragging (telling?) about drinking and then driving somewhere, and getting away with it.

I then say my cousin was killed by a drunk driver.

These people then attempt to distance themselves from the man who killed my cousin by demonizing him, or suggesting he’s a monster, or an asshole, or should rot in jail.

Wrong. He is exactly the same as any other person who drives drunk, only he has worse luck.

That is to say, anyone who drives drunk us just as much a monster/asshole/demon as the man who killed my cousin - they just have better luck.

Eventually good luck runs out.

My sympathies on such a horrible tragedy. I think you have it right. This guy is not any better or worse than anyone else who has ever taken a risk and driven drunk. I hope someone out there learns a lesson from this.

Please throw my sympathies on the pile Alice. You’re handling it much better than I might, were I in such a place. The problem is that people often associate horrible accidents only with drunk drivers, the reality (as the 13 years of scraping up those accidents has shown me) is that 1. Being tired is the same as being drunk, sometimes worse. 2. More people can’t adequately maneuver the vehicles they’ve chosen, and often a simple overcorrection causes a horrific accident, without the intervention of alcohol. Drunk driving is a crime, this young man chose to commit that crime, and should be accordingly punished, and the death of your cousin avenged, as much as it can be by this criminal rotting away.

I agree with this 100 percent, Alice. The evil in drunk driving is in the act itself, not the consequences.

I guess, though, that the only way to convince these morons that it’s better not to drink and drive is to make something of an example out of the people who get caught, especially those who end up killing someone else.

Personally, i think that the penalties need to be increased for people who get caught before they have an accident. The problem is that, so often, people arrested for DUI/DWI get a slap on the wrist that fails to convince them that it’s not worth the risk.

The mayor of a local town is on tape telling a cop that he’s fixed more DWI tickets than the cop could ever hope to write.

I cannot comprehend how this mayor isn’t behind bars.

My sympathy for your loss, Alice.


The revulsion I feel while reading that goes beyond words and into the realm of physical violence. Flouting proper and worthy authority in its attempt to deter and prosecute criminal vehicular recklessness is amoral and corrupt in the very worst way. If one of those drivers who had a ticket fixed goes on to kill someone while DUI, the mayor should be held as an accessory. What a maggot.

Zenster, I may have to back up here. Here’s a cite to the story, with two relevant and contradictory quotes from the mayor:

In another article, however, there’s more specific claims (although they weren’t on tape):


While I agree with you mhendo I think one of the reasons you don’t see stiffer penalties for drunk driving are because juries are made up of people. People sometimes drink and then drive. So many feel that “but for the grace of God that could be me” sitting there. I don’t want to punish this person too badly because next time it may be me getting punished. I think this has changed somewhat over the past 10 years but there are still quite a few out there that feel this way.

Also the jury doesn’t see the victims. What they see is the nice young man/woman…husband/father…wife/mother. I don’t want to ruin their lives with a long prison term.

Do you suppose he’s gonna get re-elected.