Sunday, March 6, 2011

Family Awaits Justice

[Article first published as Family Awaits Justice on Technorati.]

Writer's note: Usually the content on this blog is lighthearted, but I felt compelled to write about the following event as it was so troubling and mind-numbing. I am certain that you will, too.

Funny how memories--especially troublesome ones--tend to fade a bit and yellow around the edges like old newspapers until something forces us to re-examine the past.

That's what happened last week when I watched the news report in disbelief that the man who killed a 15 year old at my former high school in a drunken driving accident almost 13 years ago was involved in another fatal accident. 

This time a 36-year-old single mother died. According to news reports, police did not believe alcohol or drugs were involved in the collision which occurred over Labor Day. Speed apparently might have been. 

Although police are expected to refer the case to a Dallas County grand jury, six months later no charges have been filed and the family is crying out for justice. 

It was quite a different story those 13 years ago. I rummaged through my box of high school newspapers until I found the two issues I was looking for that covered Stefani Robertson's death and the aftermath it wrought. In a plea bargain agreement, the driver, Christopher Clary, received 10 years probation and was ordered to purchase public service ads marking Stefani's death in the school newspaper I advised at the time.

The cost for those five years worth of ads was $500, and I remember feeling profoundly sad that a life could be bartered for a mere $500. That feeling has not abated even after all these years.

I'm sure Clary has no idea how many lives shattered that December day in 1998 or how many remain fragmented to this day. 

I was so troubled by the latest news reports that instead of discussing our normal current events on Friday in my journalism class, I showed the television news coverage and read the poignant piece written 10 years ago about Stefani's death.

In the article,  Stefani's mother said, "It's those little things that get to me. Those things we never got to do together. Instead of buying her a car, I was buying her a coffin. Instead of picking out a college, I was picking out a cemetery plot. We missed out on so much."

And now another family awaits justice.


Amanda said...

I'm not even sure how to respond to this. I'm in disbelief and outraged. My thoughts and prayers have been with Stefani's family and his latest victim's.

Unknown said...

Alcoholism and DUI are huge up here in Montana. We have offenders that have been caught 12 times or more and they get little more than a slap on the hand because it's not a felony in this state. Our legislators are working to change that, especially when we have such tragedies like kids being run down while walking along the side of the road. (Happened here)

It sickens me, but yeah, it's a problem. And it's about lives torn apart because of senseless acts. My heart goes out to Stefani's family and to the family of the single mom. Some child won't have their mom anymore, and that is sad.