Ripples – Edited and updated for 2016

**WARNING –  Seriously  this is  a real WARNING**  –  the below  post contains some  very graphic language, and  depictions of traumatic, tragic  and disturbing  events including death and destruction.  Please  read at your  own  discretion**

Updated and cleaned up this post from 2013, changed it to past tense and editied the content, spelling, grammar etc..

~Ripples~

I don’t want to relive this day,  but I do, year after year, holiday  after holiday.  In my dreams, in my  waking hours, watching the news,  movies,  pretty much anything can  trigger the memories. I am leaving out  the  names and  some of the details to protect the innocent (and the guilty as well)  but the moral of the story and it’s  real life effect ,  life  changing  for myself and many others, is true and  it STILL happens  daily.

I certainly don’t want to write about it and  relive it  with words on paper,  but I think  it’s a  story  that needs to be told.

My HOPE, for anyone who  reads this – DON’T DRINK AND  DRIVE  – PERIOD!!! Your poor judgment  affects  many more people  than just you  or the people  you kill or maim!

All the good  we put out into the world sends ripples. The Bad does as well. The effect of   even a  single  traumatic event  can  send out ripples that you will never know about. Some may  change to  positive for others to learn from,  but some may turn into  huge waves of grief  and  depression and  pain.

The events depicted below occurred 14 years ago,   New Year’s Eve 2002 – New Year’s Day 2003.

On the night of this call I’d  been on  the fire department for 2 year. I still had a  damn  “T”  for trainee  on my helmet. When I joined there weren’t enough people  for a formal  class,  it was   show up, get my gear and  start   going to drills and calls on my first day. I  had some doozie calls! Some good , some terrible.   BIood and guts,    domestic  violence,  gun shots,  ATV accidents,  car  accidents, house  fires, barn fires,   arsons,  tummy aches,   febrile seizures  etc…   In  2 years I’d seen a lot that  I never  saw up close  in  war.   I saw  death and  accidents and  terrible things  but  from a “safe-ish”  distance. I   was in  communications   for most of it  so I sent and received the messages  mostly.  I also did some Military Police work that got me a little  closer. Onboard a  ship  everyone is a firefighter  and a first aid person so  you  get the training in  that aspect of  the Fire Service  but unless you’re in hand to hand  combat on the ground  you don’t  see what Fire Fighters and Police  see  every  single day

Every day of their  careers  first responders  see  violence, trauma, heartbreak, grief, pain,  more pain than  you can imagine. The  emotional  pain of a mother losing a child to SIDS,  or the  bloodcurdling pain of a new amputee who just ran their  motorcycle into a guard rail.  Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of   great moments  too. Childbirth,  helping someone in need who thought they were dying but  were really ok,   helping someone who is really dying  find comfort in their passing  and helping their  family  cope as well.  But, it all takes  a toll.  Every first responder has   “mechanisms”  for dealing with the good and the bad,   but   if you  find me one seasoned  firefighter or police officer that  hasn’t been  affected by  the calls they  go on, the things they see and do  then I’ll  show you  a  liar or  a completely  heartless  shell who is in the  job for  the wrong reasons.   You do have to be emotionally  hard  at times saving up your pain until you  get home.  Sometimes  you have to vomit after a call but you  find a  way to choke it down until you are out of sight of others  and back at the station. There have been on   many a call where I came  home  and  completely  broke down in tears and others where I had to  puke my brains out and  shower for  an hour.

Our Department was still 100%  volunteer,  the last of its kind in  King County, Washington.  We  trained and  worked with other departments and we’re were  part of the best EMS  system in the world.   Most all of us had regular  jobs, the Fire  Service was on top of that.  We  drilled  once a  week and  more for EMTs and officers. Back then,   we were dispatched  via  VHF  pagers  that  were  set to an always listening mode. When our specific tones  were sent  by dispatch the pager  goes off (to wake the dead)  and then turns into a  one way scanner.  You hear the voice of  dispatch  telling you where to go and the type of call.

After hearing the call you  push the button to reset it, grab your  scanner,  along with your  gear  and  barrel out the  door to your truck (all  firefighters had trucks back then)  and head to your station, listening to the scanner  for any further info on your call. You  get to the station  and jump in  a  rig ( Engine, rescue truck or aid  car depending on what was there and  what the call was)  and  respond  on the radio to say  you’re on the way. Lights, sirens and off you go.  Here’s what  our pagers  sounded like ( and yes we also have the sirens you hear in the  background  on top of the roofs of our fire stations that go off for every call)

 

 

Back to New Year’s  eve 2002  – My  kids   were young,  Easton was only 7 so we  watched  Dick Clark’s rockin’ New Year’s eve  on TV and celebrated  early  with Martinellis sparkling  cider  to ring in the   New  Year  with  New York. Put the kids to bed then  off to  bed early ourselves.  I didn’t  drink at all  back then I had put  all my energy  into training   dogs and horses  and  getting that  damn “T” off of my helmet.  I’d  studied all the books,  done extra  training,  been to EMT school, anything I could  do to  get the Chief to take the “T” off.   We had a book to get  Senior  Firefighters to sign off that you  knew your stuff,  I’d done that, but I never asked for the “T” to come off, little did I know it  would be coming off tomorrow. I think I’d rather have the T…….
The pager goes off.  I launch out of bed  as it’s   on the  dresser across the room. I  grab  it out of the charger and   I hear “Engine 88, Engine 89, Aid 88, respond on Fire 3 for an injury accident  at  Southeast 320th and Kent-Kangley road”.  That’s  right here!  (I lived on  SE 314th)  it’s between my house and the fire station. Since I’m still technically  a “trainee”  I’m  not allowed to go  to  scenes directly  yet, I have to go to the  station and get a unit or get into a unit and  respond from there.  But here’s the dilemma, I could go to the main road and turn the opposite way of the accident and drive 10 minutes to our other station on the far end of the district  knowing that the rigs would all already be gone,  or I can turn the right way (left) through the accident scene to get to  my station.

Thankfully I have all my gear with me,  but no radio. I get in my bunker  pants/boots ( I forgot my lucky socks or any socks for that matter) I  pull on my shirt and suspenders grab my coat,  helmet and keys  and run out the door to the truck.  I can hear the  horns  from the station going off. I fire up my faithful Ford F-150  and  fly around my driveway and  down the  dirt road we lived on…out to  Kent-Kangley and  take a  left…. Decision made. A few seconds later,  I  see a horrific scene strewn in front of me.   The road is completely  blocked.  I have no way  to get  by  to go to the station  and no way I would  have anyway  after the horror I see  before me.

A red car completely unrecognizable as to the make or  model on its top , debris  strewn  as  far as I can see. I can hear  sirens  in the distance from the other side of the   carnage.  I pull off to the side  off the road, out of the way for any  incoming units.   I jump out of my truck and that’s  when I hear the screams. After 14 years I can still hear them clearly.

You can say  the screams were  the tires letting out air,  or the sirens coming from all directios, or screams of the few bystanders but in my mind and in my memory it  was  2 people in the back of that car.  I  could just make out part of the rear driver’s side  window. the car was laying with the driver’s  side facing me. It was   crushed and mangled but you could  see the back window and all I could hear  were the distant sirens and that  screaming.

Time stood still , as it always  does in these  situations, I approached the  scene  on foot. No tools, or anything,   pulling on my  gloves as I walk towards  the screaming  I get about 10 feet from the car and I can clearly make out  screams for help.  Just as I am  about to round the car to  see if I can gain access  from the  passenger side the entire care erupts in a  massive  ball of flame.   I am pushed back  by the heat, my jacket is open,  my helmet’s face  shield is  still up.   I can’t  do anything, completely helpless. I try to get  closer,  the  front passenger door or, what’s left of it is open.    I try to see if I can pull anyone free, the roar  of the  flames  is drowning out any other sounds and my focus is on  getting to the  people inside, but I can’t.

I turn around as one of our engines arrived,  I run to it,  grab a hose line and race towards the  car. I grab a real “newbie”   and  tell him to help me  get on the hose. We get the line stretched out and I hear  our other engine coming  from  that same  direction, beyond the scene……… or what I THOUGHT was the scene. We signal to the engineer for water and   start  to attack the fire. We aren’t on air packs,   my   jacket still undone,  helmet shield still up. I’m not properly  protected  in any way shape or  form.

We’ve been on lots of calls but not  like this one.   The Chief must have called for support  as   a neighboring department’s  engine  pulls up   from the direction that I came along with a  command car.   The Chief (a really big  deal to me at the time) of that neighboring department  walks past  us and yells  at us to  button up our  gear and  get the fire under control. We do get the flames knocked down rather quickly,  I leave the rookie with the hose to “cover me”  and   I get to the car. I can see that there’s not a thing we can do for the passengers in back. I knew that  when the ball of flames shot 30 feet in the air and the  screaming stopped,  but I had to look.  I shouldn’t have,  I wish I hadn’t ,  but it was my job.

What I see is  burned into my  brain  forever.   I see one teenage boy huddled on the roof of the car in a fetal position behind the passenger seat. He is badly burnt and still smoldering.  I look past him and see the shape of another person by the window where I first pulled up  but  crumpled in an extremely unnatural way, his face  is towards me  but not a  chance of life. His eyes were open and  solid black,  like the eyes of a Hollywood horror creature.

The county paramedics  arrived next  and maneuver their way  around the  scene to  where I am. One of them hops out and looks  in and   I’ll never forget his words:  “Those two have injuries  incompatible with life, where are the other patients?”

huh?   Other patients? What?

This was a HUGE eye opener for me, I’d  had tunnel vision.  I didn’t have very good  situational  awareness,  oh I’d taken some classes on  it in the military and   had heard the phrase  but I didn’t  fully comprehend it until that moment. This was a multi-car  incident!

There was  way more going on than just “my”  side of the  scene.  the  entire incident stretched out  300 yards or more down the road. We  finished with  making sure our fire was  extinguished and  rushed  to command to find out what we needed to do next. That’s when I saw the other  car. If you can even call it that.  It used to be an SUV a Dodge Durango I think. It was on it’s roof, the entire rear axle – tires and all  one to  who knows where. One of the front tires  went through a  fence and INTO a house.   There’s  gas leaking, the two occupants trapped in their seatbelts upside down. All we can smell is gas everywhere and  the power is still on in the vehicle.

I see one firefighter in the back  of the vehicle talking  to the people and  helping them  get loose  from the  seatbelts. We  get one out but have to use the jaws of life on the other. There’s a hose line standing by  in case that gas smell  turns into  more than just a  smell. We get the passenger out  but they aren’t in very  good shape. Backboard, c-collar and  off to the Medic  unit. I go to our aid car to help  out there. Inside is a  teenager with serious facial and other  injuries, obviously in  shock and inebriated.  He is  semi coherent  and not feeling much pain. He is asking about the passengers in the car.  I ask him how many were with him as the passenger seat and driver’s seat were empty. He said 2 or 3. Wll crap man,  how many?!?    He can’t  remember. I scramble to  gather as many  free   people that I can, they have the  other driver out at this point  so there are a  few people  standing about  waiting for orders. We get started  searching  all along the sides of the road, in the bushes and blackberries (at that time in the department we didn’t have a  thermal imaging camera AKA TIC) , we call for  a   chopper with infrared  sensors to  search the area  for warmth  of a body, someone may have been  ejected from the car.

The 2nd Medic unit arrives  and takes the  teenager off to Harborview. We  get a  3rd Medic unit to   transport the  driver of the other car.  The 1st Medic is already on its way with the passenger from the SUV  to the landing zone for an airlift.

The  living patients are  being transported, the   vehicles are now  stable. Now we need to   work with the police and  Medical Examiner to  get the  investigation started. What seems like just a few minutes was nearly  an hour  to get all the patients out of the wreckage an into transport.

There were  several hours of  clean up and  assistance to  provide in the 34° night (without socks!) . Before the Chief of   the neighboring department leaves he stops by me and  barks out – “Cunningham Give me your helmet”.  I give him a   strange look  but  I do it anyway. He’s not my chief  but he’s  still A  chief and you do what they  say.    He  takes my helmet and says I’ve seen you  on   lots of calls  and  I watched you tonight, you  did good,  you need to be sure to   always  have your gear on right but you did real good. He  takes the T’s off of my helmet  on the spot.    (I would later  talk to my own Chief who confirmed they talked and it was  way past time for them to  come off) ..but I  earned my way into the  brotherhood that night through  fire and blood.

At about 5 AM   we are let  go to rest,  the investigation is still underway.  I  go home and shower, still  really in a  state of  shock,  frozen ( especially my feet!)  and exhausted.   I tumble into bed.  What seems like 5 minutes later  my pager  goes off again for the same location.

Same  routine – jump up  and into  gear, keys, scanner etc… this time it’s a  manpower call.  They  need people to help with more clean up. I get to the same place, park in the same spot and   see the same  scene, only  this time it’s in the daylight. We can see the horrific scene clearly now. All that remains are  a few policemen,  the coroner, and our Rescue  Truck.  The road is completely  closed for  a mile in either direction. The Chief says we need to use the jaws to get the  bodies out of the back of the car so  Medical Examiner  ca  take them for autopsies and then the cops can  take the cars and  we can clean up the road.

Very few people  showed up to help. That happens sometimes,  you never know with volunteers how  many  will show for any given call.  I think there were about 4 of us.  It was  a female Senior  Firefighter/EMT   and myself   that grabbed the jaws (actually a Hurst tool).  There was a tow truck there   to  flip the car upright so we could cut the roof off to get access to the entrapped  people in the  back. Carefully,   the tow truck  got the car on its side, and then lowered to the ground. We  cut the  columns off  and peeled back the  roof of the car.    I was able to   get inside to  help get them out.  By now it had been many  hours  after their deaths, rigor mortis had set in.

The first body  was just  as I remembered it,  only  instead of on the roof  it was now on the floor and seat. The second was  now  nearly  completely crammed  underneath the driver’s seat. We had to  cut the  driver’s seat out and were able to  remove his body.  Transferring it to the  ME’s  gurney was a  challenge  due to the rigor mortis  and it was a  gruesome sight.  The same process with the second  body, just as  gruesome. But, as  professionals we maintain our composure,   we have to help the ME  get them into their  van as  the positions the   bodies are locked in  isn’t conducive to easy loading.

The  Coroner’s  truck   drives off, the  police wrap up  the  scene. The tow truck  takes away the  last  of the  destroyed cars and we are left in the quiet. We  clean up the  road and get it re-opened.

Happy fucking New year….  We spend the next hour or  two  cleaning up the road and  are finally  let go.  As I am leaving,  I am numbed by it all,   truly in shock of what  I’ve just   witnessed and done. The  gravity of the situation hits  me as I climb in my truck.  I drive  back to the station to help  put the rigs away and get them  back in service and  ready for the next call,  then I  head home. As I’m  heading home  a  bald eagle  flies down in  front of my  truck and  kind of guides me  through  what used to be  the “scene”   and on down the road towards my  turn off I  thank the Eagle for guiding me home, I  don’t remember   much after that….I turned off, the Eagle  continued on his way……I have no  recollection of the  rest of that  day….  I just knew I had to work at my day job tomorrow.

 

I  will get to  the ripples   and  the point of this post   in a bit,  but  here is the  report on this   incident from  a newspaper ( I changed it a bit to omit the names).  It   tells  what happened,  but  that’s it. Not the real tragedy  behind the story…. Not the ripples……

The Seattle Times  — “Both drivers in a New Year’s Eve accident that left two young men dead have been charged with vehicular homicide.

Two charges were filed against a 16-year-old who King County prosecutors say had been drinking and driving his Firebird at least 90 mph on the Kent-Kangley Road in Ravensdale when the accident occurred just after midnight Jan. 1.

Prosecutors also filed a single count of vehicular assault against the driver of the other car, …who they allege had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit at the time of the accident.

Both passengers in the teen’s car, …were killed. The  Passenger in the other car was  severely  injured

Occupants of both cars had just left parties and were headed in opposite directions when [X] misjudged the oncoming driver’s speed and attempted to turn left onto 320th Avenue Southeast in front of the car driven by the teen, prosecutors said.”

 

That may help you to   imagine what  I saw when I  was the 1st to  show up on the scene.   I  only saw the  firebird that had hit the  SUV  at 90+ MPH,   flipped  multiple times and  then came to rest on its roof and a short time later  burst into  flames in front of my eyes. The  other car  was literally  hundreds of yards down the road.

That short  “blurb”  in the newspaper doesn’t  begin to  tell you about the  effect of this  horrific  incident that is repeated    daily.

DAILY!!!

Every. Single. Fucking.Day.

People  KILL  people,kids, teens,  adults,   PEOPLE    KILL PEOPLE   because they are  drunk and get behind the wheel.  Ignorant of the  potential consequences.

BULLSHIT. They are not  ignorant  of  what could happen. Don’t blame the   booze.  If you  drink and drive, it’s  your fault,  your  poor judgment. Even if you have the  disease of  alcoholism you  are  still  at fault NOT your disease!!! YOU got behind the wheel not the bottle!!

I’m  betting that  many of you reading this have  been  over the limit and  driven I know I did  when I was  young and  either didn’t know better or didn’t care.   I was  a  selfish teenager once too with “issues”  wrapped up in  the world being just about me, not taking any responsibility for my own actions.   So I’m not claiming to be better than anyone. I’m not  saying I am  holier than thou.  I want to share with you  all  the true cost  of the choices  you make when you get behind the wheel  of  a  vehicle  drunk and cause an  accident.  Oh it will happen to someone else, not to me.

I’m here to tell you  that  YOUR choice to  get behind the wheel drunk   can affect   and send ripples of   damage , irreparable  damage into the world. Here’s  how  I see this particular  crash affected,   and continues   to  send ripples  into the  world…

Ripples:

The  Deaths  of  2 young men  aged 17 and  21  –  those ripples  we will never know… they could have been the creators of the cure for cancer,   Or the next Einstein or  any number of things.   negative ripples,  empty holes black dark  holes like those eyes that I see looking through me from the back seat of that car.   No one will ever know   what could have been with these two young men.

The  families and friends of those two young men. They are forever hurt beyond imagination  of  the death of their   children and friends. They are feeling the loss. Maybe they   go out and  try to   share the don’t drink and drive story, or maybe some of them go into terrible depressions,   maybe , maybe, maybe…  who knows but the ripples are still going for all  of those  people  to this day…..

What about the people  at the parties they were at   that let them   leave  drunk? They   have ripples…. They are affected too…

The survivors  (both Drunk Drivers) I can’t  imagine what their lives   turned into  after this event. What about the passenger of the SUV that survived, what were   the injuries,  did they heal?   What kind of ripples   do they have? Have they turned their  lives around, or ended them even? What about their children?    Their friends and family?  They   were affected by the ripples…. Maybe they still are

….lives forever changed….

The  witnesses , the bystanders  that  came out of their homes and  saw the carnage,  whoever it was that called 911 to get us there… what about them?  They  were witness to    a horrible scene that most of them probably have never witnessed  that close before. What effect  did it have on their lives?  Ripples…..

And then us… the  first responders…. We are “used”  to  seeing  catastrophe and tragedy,  but   you never truly get used to it..… you get hardened  to things and you build  coping mechanisms  and ways to keep your composure but you still see , you still feel, you still empathize, you still experience the things you see and   sometimes you’re  better for it,  for making a  difference for those people  you help. Sometimes   you’re not better for it. Sometimes you’re  traumatized by it. Especially in those  instances where  you can do nothing. It happens and you’re aware of it, it happens to  every  first responder. You  ask yourself, you over analyze the situations   and  what if  them  to no end.  You usually come to terms with the   fact that it was not your fault,  it was out of your hands, you tried, you did your best and most of the time you  get over it…but not always…

All of these ripples  from   are from  people making a single terrible  decision….a decision to drink and  drive or  let someone  you care about drink and drive.

But there  are times  where you don’t get over it. You’ve all heard of PTSD,   it’s not just for soldiers. It never has been really  but we  as a society  miss that. There are so many policemen, firemen,   paramedics that deal with  it in their daily lives,even  just  business people and  joe and joetta public can have it  from  seeing or being involved in a traumatic event. Don’t  you DARE  doubt PTSD for a  second.    It destroys lives but it IS  treatable. You  have to get help for it. No one, NO ONE, I don’t care who you are,  you cannot get through it  alone.

If you or someone you know has,  or you suspect they have PTSD   get  help. Talk to someone.    Sometimes that’s all it takes – talking it out, therapy can work.  Sometimes it’s  so deeply rooted that  you need medication. That’s OK!!! IT IS  OK  to  ask for help. It doesn’t make you weak, quite the opposite –  it makes you  stronger.

PTSD can build up  too. It doesn’t have to be  from a single event. We are HUMAN  we  can all only take so much. There are so many  first responders out there that  suffer in silence, with  some not even realizing they have PTSD.  If you happen to  be a first responder reading this,  take a look at yourself in the mirror   and ask yourself  if you are OK , really OK.  If you aren’t ,  talk to someone.   Even if it’s me- you can talk to me.  I’m not a licensed professional  therapist but I am a  decent listener. Contact me and I’ll listen, and offer advice,  or be a shoulder to cry on.  That’s  another thing –  any of you so called Macho Men, Tough guys, etc. if there’s anyone left that says real men don’t  cry  – WAKE THE FUCK UP… yes  we do.   I used to  cry a lot,  then after that  New Year’s Accident  I cried every day, every single day  for months on end.   I did it in private,   I didn’t talk about it, I didn’t tell  anyone,   I didn’t get help.  I just tried to deal with it, it became who I was.  I  still did my regular  job, though  in hindsight probably not as  good as I could have. I still  was  the best EMT and  Firefighter that I could be, I got promotions to Lt, then Captain and  a candidate for Chief before I had to medically retire,  But I  probably could have been better.

It took me many years before I  got help. What did I do to my  family during that time? Maybe I wasn’t  the best  parent or husband,   I’m so sorry for that.

DON’T  BE THAT PERSON! The sooner  you recognize the   symptoms, the sooner you  get help,   the better off you are and those who care about you are!!!!!

Sorry but  that’s  an important part of this  “story” . I had been suffering from PTSD unknowingly for years prior to that night but   that particular  crash, where I felt so helpless and was the only  person there for minutes,    pushed me over the edge. That was the ripple for me…. it tore my life apart….  I couldn’t sleep,  I cried , I had flashbacks, and saw the scene replayed  over and over and over…. I still do… 10 or 15 years later….. I still hear the screams, I still see those cold, black, dead eye staring at me in my dreams.

Back to   2003, January  2nd.  January 1st was  just a blur,  I was in shock I’m sure.  Since it was a holiday I’m  know  that we  took  the horses out for a ride,  did the chores,  had  dinner, read to the kids, put them to bed and   went to bed ourselves but I don’t remember. I remember  getting up on the 2nd and driving into work, crying as I listened to music. I  composed myself for the work day, I   worked and  when it was time, I went home. On my way home I remember  crying more. It was raining that day but it was just scattered showers.  Isaw a double rainbow and  told myself that it was going to be ok. That helped  a little. It didn’t stop the crying or  the other issues  of PTSD but it   helped me to  survive  for years, it didn’t save my  marriage but I survived.

Who else  from that night suffered?  Other firefighters?  Probably.  I know at least one that   left the department after that.   Somewhere,  every day these  things happen. Because of  one   selfish decision. You can ruin lives and send ripples of  evil into the world…  DON’T DRINK AND  DRIVE!!!

Like I said earlier though,  I’m not any  better than anyone else. If you happen to be reading this and   have caused an accident  or done something  in your life to  send out those  negative  ripples, please  don’t  despair. You CAN  CHANGE, you  CAN make a  difference,   a POSITIVE difference in the world  still!    You are also a victim, possibly of PTSD  yourself,   you may be  a victim of your choice and yes it was your fault  but  you  can make amends and change lives positively. Every action  we make has  ripples.  Make a change, make a resolution to yourself  to make a positive difference and send out those ripples  into the world….  Forgive yourself, get help, make a difference.

This  story  is just  one of the  many ripples sent out on  1/1/03 in a little  rural   community  that changed the world for so many  people. It is  now  rippling out to you, the one reading this. You   may not realize it but you just got rippled.    Share that ripple, keep it going, don’t let it  find the shore and fizzle out. Keep the positive ripple , the message of  “don’t drink and   drive”  should keep rippling until it is no longer needed.

Don’t let anyone you know  or love drink or  drive.  Save lives,  make positive ripples.   Imagine the world rippling with positivity. You can be that change in  every  way , every day. Resolve to   send positive  ripples.

I spent 14  years in the fire service. I went  from  trainee, to probie, to  lieutenant to  captain. I went on thousands of calls,  some worse than this one,  most better than this one.    I wanted to share this particular story  with you to hopefully   make a difference for someone.  Even if that someone is me. Maybe this is one of my final acts of letting go  after all these years.

About every other year on New Year’s  Eve,  I go to the  roadside memorial  set up  for the two young men whose lives were lost that night and I place flowers there.  I  say  how sorry I am  that I couldn’t help them.   I’ve begged for forgiveness for myself   over the years, I’ve sang and  I’ve wept at that site.  I’ve parked where I  did that night and  relived the moments  over and over. Tonight ( 2013) was the last time  I did that.   One final  act of a single  small part of  that   huge incident to put a  stop to  the ripples of that event on my life.   I’ve  always gone alone,  but that night  I took my wife with me , I wish I could take my boys as well , they don’t know this story fully. They just know that  dad is a  freakazoid about  drinking and driving and  kids dying. Maybe they will read this someday and understand why I   always “nag”  and make them promise me never to do it, or let anyone they  are with do it. To be  leaders not followers. My wife and I went out to the site, placed flowers on the memorial, she said  a prayer,   I apologized one last time and I forgave myself and let go. I resolved  to  do all  that I can to make a positive difference in the world. I still  try to do that every day of my life in some way.

For  more information on PTSD: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001923/

You  don’t need any more   info on Drunk Driving….  You see it everywhere… just don’t do it…. If you do need more info   just   look around  I’m sure you will find it…

Sorry for the “downer” post –  PLEASE Don’t look at it as a downer,  don’t be sad. Make a   change, make a difference, smile  and  be kind..  I truly do  wish each and every one of you a   wonderful  safe and happy New year, I hope all  of your  dreams  come true and that 2017 is  a fabulous year for you all.

As always my friends:

Stay Safe, Be Kind, Keep the Park Clean, Pay it forward, Make a Difference and One Love.

2 thoughts on “Ripples – Edited and updated for 2016

  1. When I was young I did drink and drive. I look back on that now and realize how lucky I was not to kill someone while I was behind the wheel of my car. I hope more folks read this, if it stops just one person from drinking and driving that will make it all worth the pain that you went through writing this. Thanks Mike.

  2. Thank you Mike, although I read it before I read every word again. I’m also going to share this. Keep reposting this guy, everyone needs a reminder now and then or will see it for the first time. You and your family have a great 2017.

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