Scars of DUI: Timeline
By Airman 1st Class Brittney Shuff, 319th Force Support Squadron
/ Published July 22, 2014
GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
Home; what is home? Home is supposed to be a place of comfort, a place with family and loved ones, a place to rest your head. Most have been fortunate enough to always have a home and comfort zone or someone you could look to for answers. However, I was not so fortunate. My "home" was taken from me months before my high school graduation, simply because one irresponsible person got behind the wheel while intoxicated.
Drunk driving has genuinely and negatively altered my life. Dramatic? almost like a movie? Sadly it was too much of a reality for me and my aunt.
March 19, 2012: It was a perfectly normal day. I got ready for school, as usual. Ate my breakfast, finished my homework and told my family I loved them as I headed out the door. My mother and my aunt would be heading to a doctor's appointment in Columbus, Ohio, in a few hours. My aunt was diabetic and being from a small town, the closest doctor to care for her was two hours away. They had made the trip several times, so nothing was out of the ordinary.
As I was leaving my fourth period class, on my way to lunch I was called to the principal's office via loudspeaker. I knew what it was about or at least I thought I did. I waited until it was my turn and approached "the bench" as I had done many times before. The principal closed the door behind me which had never happened before, but it was not unusual. I noticed the school guidance counselor was also in the office. It was strange seeing as I didn't need any guidance.
"You will probably want to be seated for this Brittney," the principal said. "Your mother and your aunt have been in a car accident."
My worst fear had just come true. The only words I could seem to put in a sentence was "how bad?" I asked several times before I got a response.
My mother had two broken ribs, a concussion, and minor cuts. My aunt had a broken back in two places, a broken jaw, left arm shattered, numerous broken ribs and a punctured left lung, and all her teeth were either broken off or chipped.
A drunk driver had T-boned them at 50 miles per hour pulling out of a four-way stop. I was on edge with anger. The entire way home and to the hospital it all seemed so unreal. I thought this has to be a movie. This cannot be happening, not to me. No one ever thinks it can happen to them.
As soon as my dad and I arrived, we were directed to my mom's room. She was asleep when we walked in and so bruised that it didn't even look like her. My once beautiful, vibrant mother now looked pale and vulnerable. I sat with my mom beside for hours on end, just watching her sleep. Other than silence the only constant sounds in the room were my dad trying to hold back his tears.
Every hour the nurse would come in and check on her, jot down a few notes, and out the door she went. Every so often we were reminded that my aunt was still in surgery and we probably wouldn't be able to see her for a few days. Those were the longest "few days" of my life.
March 25, 2012: Only 36 days away from graduation and I was nowhere near excited. We finally got to see my aunt. I had to double check the folder on the door to make sure it was the right room. I had never seen anyone in such a condition before. Under all of the wires, tubes, and machines was my aunt, my babysitter, but most importantly my best friend. She was in a coma and remained that way for 22 days. Every day after school I would go sit next her for a few hours. I would hold her hand, sing to her and tell her how my day went.
April 16, 2012: My aunt was awake and she was responding! I did not attend school for the next two days. We didn't talk about the accident at all. We only focused on the positive things, mostly that both of them were alive!
April 18, 2012: I was gathering my things to head home for the night from the hospital. My aunt held my hand and started crying. She said "Brittney, never put someone in this position. Never do this to anyone. Please!" I assured her I would not. She went on to say, "I love you and your mom and I will see you guys later." Those were the last words she said to me. She passed away that night; it was almost as if she knew she would.
April 30, 2012: I walked across the stage with so much hate in my heart, tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. My aunt wouldn't have accepted any less.
I have personally seen how ugly drunk driving can be. How unforgiving it can be and how easily it can take a life. Until it hits home, you may never take it seriously, but when it hits home...it hits hard.