Melissa denied she was an alcoholic despite two DUIs on her driving record. Mandatory adult alcohol education classes did little to curb her drinking. She had no intention of giving up alcohol because she didn’t consider herself a drunk.
Mornings, however, were tough for Melissa. Hung over from the night before, she could hardly pull herself out of bed. Tired of feeling hung over, she swore she would cut down on the amount of alcohol she consumed every evening. But this morning would prove to be too late and a living nightmare.
When Melissa awakened from yet another night of heavy drinking, she found herself lying in a hospital room. Tubes were stuck in her arms. Her head pounded and memory of the night before was foggy. The news she was about to hear would change her life forever. Last night, a drunk driver killed her seven-year-old son, Ryan. The drunk driver was Melissa.
The night before was no different than most nights. Melissa began drinking in the early evening hours to unwind from her stressful day. Her son, Ryan, had a scheduled sleep over at a friend’s house. The friend only lived a mile away so Melissa told Ryan to get his things and hop in the car. As Melissa buckled into the front seat, she didn’t notice that Ryan wasn’t wearing his seat belt. Driving through the winding roads of the neighborhood, she lost control of the car and hit a tree. She survived the crash but Ryan did not. He was thrown from the car and instantly killed.
We know that drunk drivers kill people. What you may not know is what researchers reported in the May 3, 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association—that drunk drivers who are responsible for the deaths of children under the age of 11 are usually relatives or moms like Melissa.
Researchers studied the crash fatalities records of children killed between the years of 1991 and 1996. Two-thirds of the children were killed while riding in the drunk driver’s car. The other third died from being hit by drunk drivers while walking, skateboarding, riding their bikes or being transported in another car.
The sobering reality is that driving drunk makes you a potential child killer. The incredible risk that is taken every time you get behind a wheel is staggering. If you have an alcohol problem, admit it now. You don’t want to end up like Melissa—an alcoholic responsible for the death of her child. The pain from that kind of loss is unimaginable. Help is available.
(Melissa is a fictional character based on a real life story)