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AIRMAN RECOUNTS HURT CAUSED BY DRUNK DRIVER

Airman recounts hurt caused by drunk driver

HITTING THE BOTTLE?

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Some things occur in life that you never forget -- things that leave a scar or never heal -- but still serve as teaching moments. My lesson in drunk driving came at the tender age of 11.

It was Friday, date night for my parents.

I was 11, and my little sister, Jen, was 9.

It was awesome! Jen and I had the whole house to ourselves.

At around 2 a.m., however, excitement turned to fear. ...

Someone was knocking on our front door.

I didn't grow up in the best neighborhood, so there was no way I was opening that door. As the knocking persisted, we grew more terrified. Jen and I actually hid under the bed. Was someone trying to break into our house?

We eventually fell asleep, huddled together, still cowering under the bed. When we woke up later that morning, we cautiously crept out from underneath the bed. We tiptoed to mom and dad's room and knocked on the door.

No answer.

I opened the door. ... They hadn't come home!

I picked up the phone to call my grandpa and found it had been off the hook since last night.

Grandpa told me mom and dad had been hit by a drunk driver. He said it happened around 1 a.m., and he had tried to call us. When he couldn't reach us, he had driven to our house and knocked on the door and windows.

Once safely with our grandparents, we were told the details of the accident. My father was driving home when a drunk driver swerved into their lane and sideswiped them. Dad lost control of the car and hit a telephone pole head on. Mom wasn't wearing her safety belt, and her face went through the windshield. Dad had this crazy adrenaline rush and pulled my mom out of the car. But he also was badly injured ... he suffered a broken back.

After my grandpa gave us the news, Jen freaked out and I cried. I'm not sure if I was crying from sadness or because I was angry as hell ... probably both.

The good news is my parents miraculously survived. As a matter of fact, they came home from the hospital Sunday evening, just two days after the accident.

My dad still had a long recovery ahead ­-- his broken back put him out of commission for nearly seven months. And my mom wasn't in much better shape.

Our lives changed drastically. No more family outings to the park, no more fun or normal things for kids our ages. Instead, the next several months consisted of Jen and me taking care of our parents.

What upsets me the most is that this didn't need to happen; responsible decisions could have prevented the entire event.

My life was affected by an irresponsible, selfish guy who couldn't make the right decision concerning drinking and driving and almost killed my parents. Don't be that guy.