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Auto Accidents Leave Indelible Memories For Those Left Behind

Drunken driving deaths take their toll in more than just one way.

This is one of those stories that sets you to thinking, “What if?” Drunken driving is almost as prevalent as the common cold, and like a common cold, it has the potential to turn into something else over time. Take this case, for instance. It is one that still resonates with grief and loss, even two years after the fact. The only good thing is that there is a measure of healing involved for the man who killed a family’s son, for the family who lost their son, and for the officer that attended the final chapter of a young man’s life.

It was November, 2010, when four friends were heading back home after a concert, with the designated driver behind the wheel. While heading north on the highway, the four were rammed by a 22-year-old Air Force airman doing an estimated 78 mph. He had opted to drive while under the influence. His decision killed a 21-year-old passenger in the car. The man’s family decided to file a wrongful death lawsuit, not for revenge, but to seek an accounting of responsibility.

The airman’s blood alcohol content was 0.183; he pled guilty to drunken driving, involuntary manslaughter, and three counts of aggravated battery. While on his way out of court to start serving a six-year sentence, he was told by the mother of the dead young man that they forgave him. The family wanted to focus on healing, and not anger. As a step toward healing, the family started a website asking people to perform seven acts of kindness. The detective who was present at the scene of that horrible accident made his first act of kindness: a presentation for schools and colleges about the accident. In sharing the horror of death caused by a drunken driver, a lesson was presented to those who watch.

However, the officer felt that something was missing from the presentation: the convicted drunken driver. Over time, the officer made the effort to get to know the driver: when he is released from prison in 2016, they plan to make the presentation together. It is, in part, a story about faith and healing, about redemption and about the horror of what drinking and driving does. It’s not a hearts-and-flowers presentation. It is factual and graphic. It carries the message that people need to be responsible and do not drink and drive. It hits home, and that is what it is intended to do. Don’t drink and drive. It may be the last time you do.

Not all stories involving a drunken driver end up like this one. Some situations leave families seething with anger and a thirst for revenge. The point is drunken drivers affect all of us in some way or another. It’s time to stop the carnage.

Charlie Donahue is a New Hampshire personal injury lawyer located in Keene. Donahue handles injury cases in New Hampshire and across the United States. To learn more about New Hampshire injury attorney, Charlie Donahue, visit

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