Chemical Dependency & the Law
I attended a Victim's Panel tonight at the First Congregational Church in Bellevue. I showed up early, not knowing what to expect. The meeting was in the church's sanctuary and the panel seemed to be a little out of sorts because they have always met downstairs and this was the first time in a new setting. I found out later that the church uses the downstairs as shelter for the homeless in November. When I arrived inside, there was a long line of people waiting to go in. There were four panelists who shared their stories.
George was the first to speak up. He first told the crowd that no one was there tonight to tell them how "bad" they are or to shame them in any way. His hope was that he could change the mind of just one person to not drink and drive ever again. He shared about his 19-year-old son Jeff who died on August 2, 2000. Jeff had volunteered to ride as a passenger in the vehicle of his friend to help him get to Gas Works Park. This friend was intoxicated and unwilling to give up his car keys. No one was going to drive his car. Jeff and his friend never made it to the park that night. His friend took the on-ramp from I-405 onto I-5 north too fast and lost control of the car. It was the worst mutilation the Medical Examiner had ever seen and Jeff died instantly along with his friend. George shared how he has been suicidal, suffered from depression and has been on anti-depressants for the past two years, been in psychotherapy, and attended classes to help victims get over traumatic experiences. George gave the statistic that over 600 people died on Washington State roads in the year 2000 and 47% of those deaths were alcohol related. George ended by telling the crowd that if no one came up to him afterwards and told him that they had changed their mind and were never going to drink and drive again, he would not be returning to the panel.