Friday, February 4, 2011


I speak as the son of a drunk driver victim. My dad was killed right before my 8th birthday, as he drove to work (as the sole supporter of our family) - leaving my mother, my sister and I. My mom, who was previously a stay-at-home mom, was forced to work to support us two kids.
What Ms. Day did was wrong, but it was purely an accident. Ms. Day did not wake up and say "I want to kill two people." She had the best of intentions to make a courtesy stop. She had driven thousands and thousands of miles, for many days, without a single blemish on her driving record. What happened was the perfect storm of a number of factors that lined up and caused this tragedy.
It was an accident. The victims' families understand that it was an accident. Ms. Day did not intend to cause harm. She made a mistake, that she will be held responsible for. But what punishment do you propose for someone who made a mistake? Do you truly feel that someone who has been completely remorseful over the situation be thrown in jail over a mistake?
My father was killed by a drunk driver. Someone who made the calculated CHOICE to get drunk, get behind the wheel of a car, drive, and blow a stop sign to kill my father. He didn't have to drink alcohol but he chose to, hours before the wreck. He didn't have to drive, but he chose to. It wasn't a matter of a blind spot that he forgot to check - it was selfish decisions made for his own being, rather than the thoughts of others.
He was charged with criminally negligent homicide (because he was drinking alcohol), and served one year in jail.
He can legally drive today. Even hold a commercial license.
I can see the difference between what happened that fateful night in downtown Portland, versus what happened on the outskirts of McMinnville one June morning in 1985.
There is no amount of jail time that is going to improve this situation. No amount of jail is going to rehabilitate Ms. Day (because there is no rehabilitation needed). Thousands of people die each year because of mistakes; it does not mean that people need to go to jail. The victims' families will probably receive a financial settlement from TriMet and the other defendants in a civil trial. It is a tragic event...but the victims' families have forgiven Ms. Day.
I hope you are not a Christian, because if you are...I hope that on Sunday, you have a very long talk with your Pastor or other religious leader. A very, very long talk. It is okay to be upset, but there is no reason to be vindictive.