June 4, 2013
You hear about drunk drivers all the time, yet you never really think something like this can ever hit close to home….and then without warning, it does. And just like that, your world is changed forever.
In late March, my seven year-old granddaughter was the sole passenger in a one-vehicle automobile accident with a drunk driver…her father. Thankfully, she wasn’t injured, but if you could have seen the condition of the vehicle, you would have thought someone was killed. They say it was a miracle…I say it was God watching over this sweet child.
Her father suffered a head injury and had to be transported to a Birmingham hospital, but later recovered from his injuries. His blood alcohol level was over three times the legal limit. You may not think there is much of a story here because my granddaughter was not injured, and while she may not have suffered any physical injuries, her innocence was shattered forever. It was a cruel awakening for such a loving child as this.
Much like many young girls, her father was her hero and the unconditional love she felt for him made no room for imperfections. With one adult’s terrible error in judgement, a child’s life would never be the same again. She was introduced to terms such as DHR and supervised visits. She was confused as to why she could not see her father or talk to him. Strange people came to visit her and ask her personal questions about home life. It was such a confusing time for her and my heart broke for her as I watched her grasp for understanding in the aftermath. She became withdrawn and would not even talk about her father, I guess for fear she would get into trouble.
Her father was charged with a DUI and no child endangerment charge was ever filed. I even went to the State Trooper who worked the accident and asked him why child endangerment charges were never filed. He told me he could not charge him with anything else but DUI, and that he had done everything he could in the manner by getting DHR involved.
The really sad thing about it is that my daughter’s parenting skills were put to the test by getting DHR involved. It was her home that was disrupted by inspections at random times. Questions were asked and eyebrows were raised about my daughter as to how she could not have known he was inebriated when he came to pick his child up for weekend visitation. It’s a question that tortured my daughter’s mind as well, as she would beat herself up about it regularly in the next few weeks. She swore he acted no different than any other time, which finally led her to believe she had never actually seen him sober. She continues to have nightmares to this day over what could have been…
Just last week, only two months after the accident, we were informed that the father was moving to another state and that the state of Alabama (DHR) was dropping the case. He was free to go and would retain all normal visitations. When my daughter asked how this could happen, she was informed that it was out of their hands and that he had complied with all regulations. Our minds were stunned with this turn of events.
I’m not placing all the blame on DHR, I’m sure they followed the guidelines following this case. I’m not even sure who I can blame, but something in our system needs to change somewhere along the way so we can keep our children safe from the evils of the world. How are we supposed to protect our children to the best of our ability if our hands are tied with legalities? We wake up in the morning, not knowing how the day’s event will unfold, but the one thing we do not is that we will do everything on our power to keep our dear children safe. It is our job as a parent and something we are supposed to be allowed to control to an extent. And when that control is taken from you, it leaves you with a feeling of helplessness you can never explain.
I give thanks to God for watching over my sweet granddaughter on this fateful day, because in the end, it is He who is in control. It is Him that I turn to now in my daily prayers to continue to keep her safe when we cannot. After all, our faith is what we cling to everyday in our daily struggles.