it's a Tuesday, and already after ten am; in other words, a late start.
We've had a tragedy hit our community over the weekend. A woman, Alisa, coming home with her three daughters -- Taylor, Jayden, Logan -- were hit by an oncoming vehicle on one of our local freeways; the other driver, suspected to be intoxicated. He died upon impact, while the mom and her girls are still in the hospital battling serious injuries, with one girl in a coma. Occurring around 9 pm on Sunday evening, the 30 year old driver was driving east on the westbound side of the highway.
The husband and father, Will Cunningham, is a coach for Cathedral Catholic High School -- and Alisa, a math teacher at San Diego Christian College. Cathedral Catholic will be holding a mass for the family in less than an hour from now.
Among possibly too many things to count, something like this becomes a senseless, unfathomable reminder how sacred life truly is.
My heart goes out to the family this morning.
In America, "an average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 53 minutes" -- at least according to data from 2011." And those stats were found here..."alcoholalert.com, describing itself as a place offering 'intervention at the point of consumption.'
In 2011, 9,878 people were killed by alcohol-related traffic incidents. But something more stunning, is the number at the head of the chart, beginning in the year 1982. In that year, there were 43,945 fatalities on the road, with 26,173 of them (or 60%) being directly related to alcohol consumption and intoxication.
Just look at those numbers again! In 1982, nearly 45,000 people were killed in traffic accidents -- and a little over half of them (26,000) were due to someone's excessive consumption of alcohol, leading to driving impairment, leading to the death of innocents and maybe even, themselves.
But just look at how that number changes over the years...as organizations like MADD begin to gain a foothold on personal behavior, community responsibility and overall awareness and attention. Of course, local jurisdictions changing laws and stiffening the consequences for DUI goes hand in hand.
The alcohol was not taken away -- the vehicle was not taken away -- but the emphasis on greater, life changing, expensive, devastating consequences and fines grew to a point of saturation within communities far and wide; the macro-consciousness reached a greater understanding and respect for life itself, especially before getting behind the wheel.
Not only for the sake of one's own life, but for the lives of others, lifestyles and habits were altered forever, and responsible people began to make broad changes as to when, where, and how much alcohol they consumed, if at all.
And yet, knowing all that we know now -- tragedy still happens. Going back into that chart -- although the number of accidents has come down (32,367), it shows that we are still experiencing 38% of traffic fatalities due to alcohol.
So we must ask ourselves, how can that be? Forty years later, wiser, more advanced in information available and countless agencies offering assistance at our beck and call -- the improvement factor seems to have settled into a rate of only about thirty percent since the eighties.
The Cunningham's -- along with their entire family and friends -- are in the midst of experiencing heart-wrenching pain and emotional trauma, that will surely last long after the headlines have disappeared, all because another human being lost all self-control, and any respect for the community at large, for a self-induced, temporary, unconscionable high.
The recklessness of his actions reach the tangible and intangible in proportions unimaginable, seen and unseen.
But let's be clear just to make a public policy and cultural point -- no one is calling for prohibition.
Sure, everyone is shaking their heads, hanging their chins down in prayer, wondering why on God's great earth something like this could happen. Not now, not again, not today.... how can this be?
But no one is calling for prohibition. No, all is quiet on that front.
And yet, even if we had prohibition -- who's to say things like this would not still occur? [Can you say, been there, done that] Bootlegged booze created a culture of underground speak-easy's, a mob rule bringing violence, crime and chaos, as it manipulated and operated a black market economy revolving around the commerce of alcohol and all things illegal, unlawful, and corrupt.
My girl will be getting her driver's license this Friday.
I am already frightened out of my skin for all the things that could happen down the road. And yet, as a little mama, it wouldn't make any sense to run around afraid for what may or may not, if ever, come to harm my baby. To live in that manner would not be living at all, now would it?
As scary as the world can be at times, in places unfamiliar, in roads not taken -- we must live to our fullest and brightest, without hindering the landscape with what if's and what-about-this and eventually entering around-a-bout's that just send us in emotional circles, to the point of spinning ourselves into oblivion where we all fall down. There, motionless, life gives us nothing to live on nor sustain us.
No, we have to keep going forward, taking with us whatever life brings our way.
And our children must learn to do the same. It's how we all grow up, hopefully.
The Cunningham's are still now -- waiting for the recovery to come their way, waiting for life to breathe back into their day to day as if nothing ever happened.
And yet something did.
And it was at the hands of a senseless, unfathomable act of selfishness that could have been prevented...if only.
Maybe today, we can take the lesson to heart; maybe one day, alcohol-related fatalities and injuries, within the communities we live, will be a thing of the past.
Make it a Good Day, G