Kevin Daniel "Sunshine" Yates, 25 yrs. old, Chattanogga, Tn, USA
by Crystal Richards
T-shirt we had made to spread the word.
My name is Crystal and my nephew, Kevin, was killed by a drunk driver, on July 31st, 2011. He was coming home from work and a drunk driver was driving the wrong way on Highway 153, in Chattanooga, and hit him. He never saw her coming. She had been drinking at a bar with friends. She was driving them home and her driving was so erratic one of the passengers told her to pull over and let them drive the rest of the way. After getting them home, they handed her back the keys and let her leave intoxicated. She drove about 4 1/2 miles the wrong way at approximately 80 miles an hour. Kevin was doing the 55 mph speed limit. She was driving a late model jeep, he was in a mini van.
Initially the witnesses called in to 911 that the driver in the van was dead. The EMS tech's were able to revive Kevin three times. He was pronounced dead on August 1, 2011. She was coherent and able to speak to the emergency workers and witnesses of the wreck. She needed surgery on both ankles and was able to walk into the court room for her hearing.
She states she doesn't remember the evening. She has apologized and is very remorseful. Some of our family has decided to forgive her and was able to tell her that the day of her sentencing.
Kevin's mother and brother created 1N3, a non-profit organization created to bring awareness of the effects of impaired driving. We offer Drug and Alcohol Awareness, Addiction Recovery and Grief Recovery. The offender has made it known that she is willing to join with 1N3 and spread the word of what she has done and try to reach as many people as she can along with 1N3, to help stop this senseless act.
1N3,the statistic that one in three people will be affected by an impaired driver in their lifetime. When you look inside Kevin's van, his tennis shoe is stuck between the gas pedal and the floor. They couldn't get it out. The steering column is twisted, he grabbed it so hard and she hit with such force, it bent. The van is so damaged, we were asked what demolition derby it was in.But we take Kevins van and tell our story to drivers education programs, churches, schools, youth groups, fairs, any where there is a need and we are asked to speak.
Kevin was an organ donor and has saved 4 lives. We were able to meet with the heart recipient and that has helped us to know a part of Kevin lives on. We are in communication with the other 3 and hope to meet them soon.
The offender is now in prison, serving 8 years with after 20% served, she will be eligible for parole. She has two children. She is serving an inner life sentence, as are all of Kevin's family.