Friday, October 5, 2007
Don and Luke's accident nearly one year ago.....
This is long.......so get yourself a cup of tea and take a moment here with me if you will. I'm reminiscing because we are coming up on an important "anniversary" for my family.
Right up front....I am not up on a soapbox preaching to anyone, don't take me wrong.
If this helps someone...it will be worth it.
I am just telling you our saga that began 361 days ago.
I totally know why this organization "MADD" was started. I was mad one night too. Very mad.I have my own story to tell.......although it doesn't even compare to others.
I am thankful for that but sad for countless families all over the world whose loved one was snatched from them or injured at the hands of someone "under the influence."
May of the God of "all comfort" help them with their grief and heartaches today and tomorrow.
One year ago this coming Tuesday.....around 9:30'ish at night. I was in bed.
I had been really sick with a cold/flu thing and went to bed early because I felt SO bad. Ariel was also in bed because she was sick as well. (I had to take her to the Dr. the next day, she had Strep Throat. I had upper respiratory.)
Don and Luke were doing some work at a friend of ours house and were due home anytime....Gabe was at some friend's house and Caleb was in his room watching TV.
For some odd reason. I had turned off my cell phone and the cordless phone wasn't in my room.
Sometime after 10:00pm...Ariel came into my room woke me up, while handing me her cell phone saying it was "Gabe"....."weird" I thought that he didn't call on my phone....but I felt so bad I didn't care what phone he was calling me on. I didn't know until later that he had tried all the phones in the house.
I heard Gabe say to me very soberly, but very strong and commanding....."You need to get up.....Dad and Luke have been in an accident."
It was one of the most horrible moments I have ever felt emotionally.
I managed to say back to him....."Are they okay" what happened?" And he replied....."They were hit by a drunk driver.....you need to just get to the hospital, they are being transported there right now."
Everything was a blur from that moment on...when I heard the words....."drunk driver" I imagined all types of horrible things. I've had some experience in this area so when I heard those two words....I was became "full of fear."
Gabe told me that the wreck had happened just a couple miles from our home....right down the road in fact and BOTH Gabe and Caleb were on the scene trying to rescue what they could of my husband's work trailer and belongings. That put even more fear in me at that instance because I knew the truck had to be "gone."
Ariel and I were on our way in a matter of moments......the accident had happened at Airline Hwy. and Siegen Lane so we had to come upon the scene on our way to the hospital.
When I pulled up and saw my boys trying to pull their Dad's trailer out of the carnage with Caleb's truck......and I saw what had happened to Don's truck I started to cry, which is so unlike me because I can always hold it together until any crisis has taken place......then fall apart.
But I think seeing this whole thing and knowing that my family had been in the middle of it and not knowing what their condition was totally grabbed me.
Gabe, my oldest son came over to my car window and said....."It's going to be okay Mom......just get to the hospital."
So we left and headed to the Lake. On the way......I could hardly talk and was shaking from being so upset, and over wrought by the emotions involved. I had no clue what I was going to find when I would finally get us to the hospital.
On the interstate I had Ariel start dialing everyone we could think of to start praying. We called our Pastor and He arrived shortly after I did which was comfort as well.
When I got to the E.R......I could see the ambulance, and the EMS people were unloading Luke and Don, they were strapped down on stretchers and headed into the E.R.
Upon walking in....I saw my husband being taken into one room and Luke was in the hallway strapped down to a stretcher. Backboard....the whole nine yards.
When he saw me he started to cry.....which isn't like him. He's a big, tough boy you know. He started to tell me what had happened and he was very upset.
So I stayed with him while some Dr.'s started to check out Don.
I felt like he was a man and he could be alone but Luke needed me to be there.....I sent Ariel in with Don while I stayed with Luke until they could start checking him out.
I never have felt so "torn" though......"should I stay with Luke or should I go be with Don, what if Don died and I'm out here with Luke....what if something happens to Luke, I need to stay with him."
It was a horrible mind game.
The drunk driver ran the red light at Siegen and came into the intersection which Don and Luke were into and broad sided my husband's BIG, HEAVY, Diesel truck.....impacting them at the front passenger side axle.....and then sliding all down the entire length of the truck and into the trailer. THANK GOD they were in Don's big truck and not the light truck that we have.
That made all the difference in the world.
Once they had impacted......another car hit the man's truck that hit them. She couldn't stop either because she had been in the lane beside Don on Airline Hwy.....Don was in the furthermost left hand lane.
The guy was coming so fast....that Don couldn't do anything....he couldn't avoid it. The guy hit them so hard that it pushed them past the intersection and into the grass median there at that busy intersection....don't forget.....Don and Luke were in a big, heavy truck....and pulling a loaded, utility trailer and it still pushed him that distance.
To top matters off....it was all said and done.....the guy got out of his vehicle and RAN!
My husband..though totally jarred by what had just occured.....got out of his side of the truck and checked on Luke who was coherent....and then Luke got out with his Dad and they both PURSUED this guy who was now fleeing the scene.
Talk about an "adrenalin rush."
They had one going on. I mean their legs could have been broken and they probably still would have crawled after this guy because they did both have injuries.
The EMS people related this story to me first and I was SHOCKED!!! They however were "quite impressed" with my husband and son.Then when I was able to speak to my husband.....he filled me in on what had happened.
Don was so upset at this guy for nearly killing them and then running off like a weenie. Don told me at the hospital once I got to see him....that "I wasn't going to let him run away like that."
So they chased him behind the "Jack in the Box" and then down into the creek that runs underneath Siegen Lane......he had gone under there.
They are yelling for him to "come out" and are still chasing him, when finally he decides to stop running and they convince him to come out with them. This is once they are already way under the bridge and up the creek a good ways.
No they didn't hit him or kick him or do anything mean to him. Don just wanted him to come back to the scene and for him to turn himself into the police.
My husband "marched him" with his hands behind his back right up to the
State Troopers who were now on the scene, who then arrested him and booked him into Parish Prison with about 3 counts of traffic violations including DUI.
Can you imagine??? "Don't mess with the Mahan's" they are tough "lot," I'm telling you! HA!
Later we all thought....."oh my gosh what if that guy would have had a gun or something???" Ugh.
It's a hard thing to deal with. You want to have mercy as a Christian and you DO have mercy...... but this kind of stuff is stupid.
You begin to become "torn" in your emotions right away.... I couldn't believe that someone could have taken away my husband and my son from me.
Three more feet and Luke would have been killed more than likely.
Once we were at the hospital.....more details started to emerge about this young man, we found out that he was my oldest son's age at the time.........22 years old. That made me think. And it still made me mad but as a Mom....I was a tad bit more forgiving when I considered the hurt he had now caused his OWN Mother.
Not only was he young.....he was a "Katrina Evacuee".......okay......again some more "mercy" because of that. I mean we didn't know what he had been through because of Katrina, what he had seen.
Yet, enough of the "Katrina Card".. there is no excuse for this type of behavior no matter who you are and what you've been through. We've all been through hard things in life....and.......My FAMILY was in that wreck.
The whole thing was selfish and it wasn't fair. It STILL isn't. But I can't change that. I can't change it for hundreds of Wives and Mom's and Sister's and Daughter's who have lost a loved one due to a drunk driver.
I've seen several families go through situations where they lost a child or a loved one because of these types of incidents.
Actually, we just had a situation about 2 months ago that greatly impacted my kids and their friends and my heart was SO overwhelmed for this local family. I wished that the parents didn't have to go through such a terrible thing.
It's one of the most heartwrenching things you will ever see.
These types of sudden and unwarrented deaths.
I am SO thankful that I didn't have to bury my husband or son after that accident.
My husband has conducted funerals for kids that have had to be buried by their parents and loved ones.
Ask me about that if you wish. I've been at them.
We were there in their homes with the family after they got "the knock on the door." It's horrible. I've heard the parents screaming and crying and wailing over the loss of their child.
I never want hear that sound again ever.
That October night......I could've joined that organization"MADD" at that moment because I was thinking right away....."at what point is it fair or justified for someone to nearly take my families lives......or to injure them......with injuries they will keep forever......just because you wanted to drink, drive, disobey the traffic lights.....and then run away from your mess???"
You can't really fix this problem. Well you can......but we don't really want to deal with it in our society.
We can press for harsher laws I guess. We can punish people stronger.
Raise the drinking age to 97 years old....I don't know.
I don't have the answers.
I mean there a ton of things that can be done but it's in "the heart of man" to do these things so you really are dealing with a heart problem.
So we prayed for his "heart" many, many times.
We have asked for "fair compensation" for our property......which is only fair. But you know insurance companies and his insurance company had to deal with the other vehicle involved in the accident besides our truck too. The boys's truck was totalled. So I guess he's out of a vehicle.
So, we deal with hearts.
Our own as well, because this all starts to tick you off. The entire system......it's not a just one. It's "injust" actually in many ways.
To this day.....we haven't even received ONE penny of property settlement on our "totaled" truck and damaged utility trailer and some of the contents inside of it.....as of today Friday October 5th.
Our own health insurance and ourselves have paid all the medical bills and co-pays and physical therapy and chiropractor bills and everything else. It's not been cheap.
We are STILL waiting and this has been "out there" since October 9th 2006.
This boy's insurance company "Progressive" has been a BEAST to deal with.
They have not even done their best to settle this quickly.....and their client is GUILTY hands down and they have acknowledged that to us......there is a video tape of the entire accident....thanks B.R. for the cameras that are mounted at that intersection. The tapes have already been "pulled" for this accident and they have viewed them.
The young man even "said he would pay the difference" on our property settlement......but we've talked to his lawyer as of today even and he's not come up with that check from him yet.
It's only a few hundred dollars too. Sad. Very sad because again.......it's my family that will take the hit for his foolishness and bad decesions.
The medical bills are high. We've had to take legal action to pay for them.....I won't give you a figure but for the small amount that his insurance covers for that part ( Medical) I promise you......it will barely pay the bills we owe the Lake and the Dr's and all else involved.
There will be no huge "compensation packages" for my husband and son or our family for our "suffering" or "mental health" or whatever else. Any further bills and health issues...will be ours to deal with because he and his insurance company....our friends at "PROGRESSIVE" won't be there to help us.
Believe me people......you DO NOT want to get hit by a drunk driver.
I PRAY no one in my family EVER gets into an accident let alone one by a drunk driver again. I pray NONE of you get into a situation with a drunk driver. It's costly and grieveous.
This is our second incident being hit by a drunk driver.....the first time wasn't as extreme as this.
I will share that adventure......and "oh yes it was an adventure" because we were on vacation when that happened in Colorado.......another time.
The good thing is......we do forgive him and I pray he's gotten some help. Maybe he will never drink again after this encounter. I hope not.
But the Mahan family will NOT be FORGETTING this situation.
It was one of the MOST valuable lessons my kids could have ever seen sad to say.
As far as Don and Luke they still have "issues" left over from this accident......but they ARE alive and that is the most important thing.
Don and Luke have been "subpoenaed" to court twice on behalf of the State of Louisiana. Each time the young man was NOT present but his lawyer was and the case was ....."continued."
Don and Luke didn't have to go last week when the Judge was to sentence this boy......later in the day Don called the D.A. to see what happened......and the case has been......"continued" once more. This makes 3 times that this case has come up before the judge....and it's not over yet.
Imagine those costs to our city and parish government.
Do I sound as if I am greedy for him to be punished.....? I'm not. Not at all.
We DO want this to be over for ourselves...... It's time consuming.....it makes us
"re-live" the event. We are dealing with bills......we are dealing with unresolved issues. It makes my husband have to get off of work and Luke to get out of High School when there is a court appearance. It's a time waster all around.
I also didn't mention earlier that my son was playing football last year for his High School......as a result of the accident......he couldn't play the last games of the season (maybe he played one) due to his injuries.
This year...his Senior year.....he is "in-eligible" to play football because of his age. He's a year older than he should be as a Senior because he is "Dyslexic" and struggled with that in years past before we knew what was going on so we had to "hold him back" in earlier grades.
So those games that Luke missed playing football will never be able to be made up for him.
For a solid year nearly.....I've pondered "what was going on in that kids head and heart that night".....I mean I'm sure he didn't think he would cause so many problems for my family or himself when he was drinking somewhere before the accident.
I don't know what was going on with him.....but something obviously was. I hope he's gotten it all worked out by now. Because he's still young and has years ahead of him to live life to it's fullest.
Oh........our wrecked truck is here in our yard if anyone wants to view it.
Thank you very much Progressive....who had their people "advise us to take it out of the junkyard" where it had been for the first few begining days of this ordeal because it was racking up "storage fees" and "there was only so much money to work with".....so it had to be brought to my house.
It's been here for nearly a year.
I hated it when the towing company brought it here and dumped it....and handed me a bill for over $500.00 which I HAD TO WRITE A CHECK out for and give to them....as IF we had caused this.
And there it has sat. In our side yard.
Like a war memorial.
Yes, for all of us and our neighbors to look at on a daily basis for nearly a year now.
Once we get "paid" for our truck......then we can get rid of it but until then...it has to sit here as an eye sore.
This is absurd.
Hopefully this will be over soon.
My husband, son and I, are tired and want this to be over.
Does anyone need a wrecked truck for a "car bash" or for some sort of event??
We've got one for you.
Let me know.
Pray we can be done with this thing VERY SOON.
We want to move on.