What Would You Do to Save a Life?
April 10, 2013
- This story and more in the April online edition of Knowledge Magazine - the Official Safety Magazine of the U.S. Army.
FORT RUCKER, Ala. - Knowing your father caused a serious auto accident while driving under the influence is something you never forget.
As children, we're taught right from wrong by our parents or a responsible adult in our lives. Then, as teenagers and into adulthood, it's up to us to remember what we learned about things such as drinking and driving. We understand it has severe consequences for the person behind the wheel and others. We know we should drive safely to protect ourselves, our passengers and other motorists. Our parents, driver's education instructors and others stress safety on the road and the dangers of drinking and driving.
However, some people believe they are above the law or think, "I can handle my liquor, no problem. I can make the ride home since I live nearby." Some may escape the consequences, while others die or go to jail for that attitude. You may feel like, "We hear this all the time." I felt the same way as you did until drinking and driving hit close to my heart and family. Let me tell you the story of the night my sister and I could have been victims of drinking and driving.
One Halloween, while my father was stationed in Bitburg, Germany, my sister and I wanted to ride with him to his buddy's house so we could play with our friends. My father said we couldn't go with him because we needed to go to a church function with our mother. But he changed his mind and said we could ride with him after all. Then, our mother said we did have to go to church with her. That was the end of it, so off we went to the church function. Little did we know how important that decision would prove to be.
On our way home from the function, we passed the scene of an auto accident that had just occurred. All of us hoped the occupants were not seriously injured as we continued to our home. After going to bed, we were awakened by a family friend who told us to get up and get dressed because we were going to their house. We asked where our parents were and what was going on.
The family friend just told us, "Just get your things. I will explain everything later."
When we saw our mother the following morning, we asked what was going on. She told us to sit down and then explained the person involved in the horrible accident we saw the previous night was our father, and he was the cause. I remembered the accident scene and how the front of the car was in the median while rest of it was on the other side of the road. That's where my sister and I would have been riding had we been in the vehicle. The vehicle had split in half from the force of the accident. My father was badly hurt and others were injured. It all happened five minutes from our home.
To this day, I wonder why my father didn't just stay the night at his friend's house or call for a ride. And why wasn't he or his friend aware that he was impaired? If my sister and I were with him, would he have gotten drunk? We learned a hard lesson from the accident. Simply put: If you see a friend, family member or even a stranger who is in no condition to be behind wheel, speak up and take action. You might save a life.