A year later – A DUI case gets its day in court and the victims get their day in the paper

As an American, I am happy in general that we have the kind of legal system that starts out with the belief that a person is innocent until proven guilty. However, there are some parts of our system that drive me crazy – such as how we deal with drunk drivers. Many of the readers and writers here on RCG know that last year my parents were hit and almost killed by a drunk. A chronic drunk as we found out throughout the course of the year. My parent’s accident was this guy’s 6th DUI and he’s received another one since then – yes, his 7th, while on a suspended license from this case.

As a reminder, here is the aftermath of my parent’s car, so you can imagine the damage inside to them.



I started writing a lot of articles focused on insurance, durable powers of attorney, and estate planning partly due to the issues we were dealing with as the result of this accident.

Well, April 9th is the sentencing hearing for the guy that hit my folks. As long as they don’t extend it again like last time. So, I’ll be leaving Seattle yet again to attend the hearing and to get a chance along with the rest of my family to voice my opinion on the topic and how it has affected my life. But all of this will be held in a room that no one from the outside will ever see or hear.

My brother, Mark, has been instrumental in doggedly searching for a way to bring the results of the case to the public’s attention. Not because our family is hungry for “our 15 minutes” – far be it. This is an ugly and painful subject and the goal is to bring to light the changes needed in “the system” so to speak. For those of you who have asked about how my parents are faring after the accident – take a look at the article that came out today in the Wichita Eagle. The online version has more content than the printed paper and will show you a video of my parents, letters they’ve written to the judge, and more. I hope some of our RCG readers will take the time to view these items and learn a few lessons and perhaps pass them on to others.

24 thoughts on “A year later – A DUI case gets its day in court and the victims get their day in the paper

  1. Pingback: Team Reba Real Estate » One year later… effects of a DUI crash get published

  2. Reba, I wish your parents and you much luck with the case. I too hope the drunk is found guilty.

    In my neighborhood of West Seattle, we recently had a case where a pedestrian was killed…not by a drunk…but by someone chatting on their cell phone who did not see the person in the crosswalk. His punishment (just a few years ago he struck a bicyclist)–he can’t drive for two years and he has to pay for the funeral. It’s a crime.

    Hopefully they’ll treat a DUI more seriously.

  3. Somewhat related, the front, the local Bar Bulletin had a story comparing the punishment for driving on suspended license to debtor’s prison. I should probably read the entire article before I dismiss that as totally absurd, but it is at least seemingly absurd. Somehow driving has become a right rather than a privilege, and that’s the case regardless of what you’ve done.

  4. Hi Rhonda, I don’t have any expectations of a big sentence since the DUI laws in Kansas are a lot less strict than here. Plus, having lost 2 friends at 14 and watching that guy get 3 years for it prepared me a long time ago to not believe sentences met the crimes in this arena. The expectation is that he’ll get no more than 12 months, but more realistically he’ll get 60-90 days with a majority of it on work release. There’s just not enough room in jails for all these people. And, he’ll pay a $2500 fine, max. Other than that he is supposed to lose his license permanently, but as we’ve seen by him getting a 7th DUI while on suspended license for this crime, he’ll likely still get behind a wheel again.

    My mom said before that she just wanted to keep him off the road so that he didn’t do something worse to another family, and then she realized what she said and how he already had done the worst he could do to someone. My father was in a coma for weeks and almost died twice. Now he’s permanently altered because of the brain damage and can no longer take care of himself. My father, and mother, received the life sentence – not the drunk. We just don’t want to see him do it again.

  5. I read in the article that your dad was having problems using a TV remote. My father lost the ability to use a regular remote control, and after looking around for quite awhile I came across this one.


    It’s not much, but it helped my dad to be able to watch what he wanted when he wanted.

    Hopefully the guy who hit your parents will end up with a long time in prison to think about what he did. He should never be allowed to drive again, but then that should have been the case back in 1999. Even more importantly, hopefully everyone who reads about your parents will remember them the next time they consider driving home after a few to many drinks.

  6. That’s so tough, Reba. I was hit by an elderly gentleman 2 July’s ago and we finally settled a couple months ago. The other driver did not even see the light was red when he ripped the front end of my car off in the intersection…had I not seen him, he would have t-boned me. I was driving a convertable and he was in a truck. It’s real scary. I’m sure he’s still driving.

    Now my son is in traffic safety…you should hear me harp! 🙂

    I agree with Kary, driving is NOT a right.

  7. I read the story, and I am truly sorry for your family’s loss. I thank God every day that my family is “whole.” It is scary that loss of function can happen in an instant.

  8. Hi Reba,

    I read about something called “restorative justice” in a magazine. I honestly can’t remember the magazine but what I do remember is the story of how someone was harmed, and the offender and the victim had a chance to meet and talk over many months. The victims were eventually able to forgive and heal, which helped them enormously and the offender was able to feel forgiven and began to change his life.

    I can’t imagine what it would be like to live through what you’re living through. Pls keep us posted.

  9. Reba,

    The system seems very unfair and reluctant to apply any real consequences to those who drive drunk.
    I’m told my grandfather was a great man and I would have loved to have known him better, but he was killed by a drunk driver on his way back from celebrating his birthday with my grandmother and some friends when I was 5 years old.
    Wishing a speedy recovery to your parents.

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