It was Friday night and Mandy and her two year old son Wyatt and husband Joe decided to pick up some Thai food. After getting their meals and looking forward to some quite time at home, Mandy and her family headed back to their house. What started as a routine drive home for this family would later turn out to be one of the most devastating and frightening experiences of their lives.
Out of nowhere, a white car with no head lights comes barreling out of a parking lot and tee bones Mandy’s car, shoving it into ongoing traffic where Mandy and her family collide with another car traveling 50 mph.
“It seemed like forever as we crashed and I wondered when we would finally stop”, Mandy explains. “I felt my neck fling forward and I had an instant headache but all of that was secondary to the fact that I could hear Wyatt screaming.”
Despite being anchored down and strapped with a seat belt, Wyatt’s car seat was flipped over sideways from the impact of the crash. Mandy and her husband immediately went to Wyatt to make sure he was unharmed. As Mandy surveys the scene to find out what happened, an apathetic woman appears from the white car very disoriented and unconcerned with the fact that she has totaled three cars and nearly killed a family.
The police arrived on the scene and later charge the indifferent lady with a DUI. They also found both illegal and prescription drugs in the woman’s possession.
Luckily, Wyatt checked out physically fine by the paramedics and medical doctors but for months Wyatt would scream when placed in his car seat from the fear and trauma of seeing a car coming crashing into him.
As for Mandy and her husband, they received some serious bodily injuries. Mandy would later learn that she had a moderate hernia in her neck and back as well as bulges in both. Joe suffered from major chest bruising as well as bulges and injuries to his hands. Mandy had headaches every day for 7 weeks and still suffers from them weekly. Her back now flares up as well. Joe continues to have back pain and hand issues.
Mandy also struggles with the emotional distress caused by the drunk driver’s criminal choices.
“Knowing that this woman could have taken my family away and remembering the collision over and over again is the worse feeling in the world”, Mandy describes. “You just have to know that you were given grace and keep praying for it.”
The reality is this could have been so much worse. That night Mandy’s family could have been killed or even more seriously injured, all because of the careless and thoughtless actions of one person.
“I don’t get it,” Mandy says softly. “The property damage alone was at least $45,000. A cab would have been so much cheaper. She could have taken a cab or called a friend for a ride but instead she almost killed my baby.”
“According to Florida DMV records, there were 33,625 DUI convictions in Florida in 2011.” This was a significant increase from 2010.
“I don’t understand why there are still so many DUI related accidents and fatalities. How many more people must die or be injured in such a senseless, preventable way?”
Mandy further expresses that while she feels the lady who hit her should serve the maximum amount of jail time for her crime, she also thinks that we must explore what caused this person to make such a choice.
“What made this woman have so little regard for her own life and the lives of others? What made her feel like she had just given up on living? Mandy questions.
While Mandy states that there is absolutely no excuse for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, she also knows that we must form a community that provides education and resources for individuals who feel so lost and desolate.
Mandy rationalizes, “If we don’t start looking at the root causes to these DUI related incidents and offer viable, solid support options, we are never going to eliminate the problem.”
This is the first part in a series of articles exploring issues related to this family’s serious ordeal. Such articles include solutions to reduce drunk driving, how to detect drunk drivers and various other related issues.