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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR | DUI victims' parents give statement
To the editor:
Regarding: Washington State vs. Kaylea Souza, excerpts from our statement made March 30 in Island County Superior Court:
We are Bruce and Sharon Knight, Robert Knight’s parents; and we are also representing Robert’s sister and our daughter, Jamie Metcalf.
We could easily be consumed with bitterness, anger and resentment but those emotions serve no useful purpose and will most certainly not bring Robert, or Mick, or Mack back to any of us. We need to focus our energies toward grieving, mourning, healing and learning how to live our new lives without Robert. Losing a child is unimaginable and the emotional, mental and physical pain is indescribable. Losing Robert has left us with a massive hole in our lives, hearts and spirits. We hope that with hard work we can get through this tragedy; but we will never be over it. Our lives are forever changed, and for now, we take refuge in support groups, grief therapists, prescribed medications, bereavement books and hold on tightly to each other.
This has been a devastating tragedy for all four of the young people and their families and loved ones. We do not wish to cause more pain for Kaylea and her family. We know all four of them had a choice to make on the night of Nov. 11, 2011. Kaylea’s choice will cost her a few years in prison, and no doubt a great deal of anguish for an indefinite length of time. The choice Robert, Mick and Mack made to get in the car with her that night cost them their lives.
When a person gets behind the wheel of a car, they are assuming responsibility for themselves, their passengers and other drivers on the road. We are very concerned that the lack of consequence for this crime delivers the wrong message to other drivers, especially young ones like Kaylea, Rob, Mack and Mick.
It is not OK to drink underage. It is not OK to drive under the influence at any age. It is not OK to play passing games and drive recklessly while driving (even when sober), and it is not OK to accidentally kill someone (or three) in the process. It could have been worse. Instead of hitting a tree, Kaylea could have hit another car head on, full of a family with children, who may have all been killed. While passing her girlfriends’ car they may have also been drawn into the accident and lost their lives. They would not have been able to help pull Kaylea from her car, and she may have also perished. Regardless, this senseless tragedy could have been avoided with responsible and lawful choices.
We also understand and appreciate that Kaylea’s “sentence” does not end in 68 months; it will last her a lifetime. We only hope she learns from this catastrophe and uses her experience to positively impact the lives of others as she continues her journey here on earth — a journey which Robert, Mick and Mack cannot, and will not, make.
The sentence of 68 months (45 months with good behavior) translates to less than two years for each of our sons’ lives. It hardly seems just, but the judge took it as far as she was allowed. We asked for the maximum sentence, not as much as punishment for Kaylea, but moreover to send a stronger message to those who are watching — all the young people who were “devastated” by the deaths of our sons but, as I have learned, they are already back to their old habits again, thinking it cannot, and will not, happen to them. It has only been 21 weeks since Robert perished.
We ask that you consider our perspective and appreciate your understanding of our concerns.
Bruce and Sharon Knight