Our lives were shattered in an instant
by Erin Lawson
On November 16, 2001 I had just found out I was pregnant. My parents were going to take us with them to look at retirement properties in WV. My husband and I both worked 3 jobs at the Annapolis Mall. November 17 was my parents 33rd wedding anniversary. I had gone to a specialty candy store and had them made up a sugar free candy basket. Kevin got stuck setting a Sale in the shoe department of JC Penny's. I had just gotten off optical. He was going to ask one of his bosses from another job for a ride home since there is no public transportation in Churchton where we lived. But I was selfish. I wanted to give my dad the basket. So I told him no. We had a silly argument about how he never got to sit in the front of the van when we rode with my dad. I wasn't feeling well and planned to lay down in the van as it was only a 20 minute drive home. Just as my dad pulled up I felt better and climbed into the front. My dad congratulated me on the pregnancy and I handed him the basket and congratulated him on his anniversary. My husband sat in the middle seat behind me. Dad said we'd stop for gas because he didn't want to hear my mom complain in the morning. We missed our turn up RT2 and dad said we'd take the next. That's when it happened. I saw his headlights and I thought he'd hit this woman he ran off the road. Then I saw him right in front of me. All I could see was headlights. Kevin tried to cover my eyes and screamed "Oh,..." through his fingers I could see my dad fight to go over to the shoulder, over in a ditch, but the guy was heading right for me. I thought "I'm dead." but at the last moment my father turned the wheel towards himself and we hit. I awoke screaming. I can still hear my own screams. I asked if everyone was alright. The guys truck was on top on me and my dad. I was stuck and couldn't feel my legs. I had already lost one baby and began to cry "Oh, no not again." Then I looked over at my dad. Blood covered the windshield. He said we had to get a hold of mom and I tried to reach for my purse to get my cellphone and the pain set in. Then the smoke set in and dad said we had to get out the car was on fire. Then he asked us to pray. We did. Then he closed his eyes. I thought I lost him.My husband Kevin tried to jump up and he said to my dad he wasn't going anywhere. I started asking his name, the date, everything. He said "I love you." Then he screamed "I love you Phyllis" which is my mom. He told me his legs were shot. He looked at me and said "Where's my arm? I can't find my arm." I reached over and his left arm was partially attached. I handed it to him. We we realized how stuck we were Kevin got a jolt of adreniline and kicked the back door open. We were trapped in our seats and Kevin tried his hardest to get us out. He was screaming "Help my wife is pregnant and my father is diabetic!" But he didn't know he had internal injuries and doubled over in pain. The fire department arrived and it took them 45 minute to cut us out with the jaws of life. They pulled my dad out like a rag doll. I still can hear his screams. They ran us all to ambulances til the helicopter arrived. I can read lips and I saw the paramedic say the guy had died, Kevin was critical and my dad wasn't going to make it. I went into a prayer meditation. I kept telling them they had to call mom. We arrived at the hospital and they cut everything off me. I wasn't allowed any pain meds because they thought I was still pregnant. I remember crying because right across from me were the doctors who were working on my dad and I could read what they were saying. Technically he died. I remember asking about him and Kevin. I remember the look on my mom's face when she saw me and how they all said it wasn't our fault. I remember sliding myself out the bed to make my legs work. I was in a collar as I had C3 spinal damage. I got to see Kevin and he kept saying his stomach hurt. I got the doctor to check and they rushed him into emergency surgery.They released me in a wheel chair. I couldn't even walk. I didn't know I was miscarrying. Had I realized the blood on the floor was mine in the hospital I would have known. My mom's sister put us up in a hotel near the shock trauma. I was with my little brother in the hotel and I crawled to the bathroom and I was missing.My aunt came and said the hospital said to bring me back.My aunt took me and they checked me in.I was so beat up they couldn't get a line in. They stuck me 15 times on each inner thigh with ladicane to try and get a line in. I had enough and started pulling things off me. They sedated me. The next thing I remember is mom coming in telling me I miscarried. Kevin had surgery to remove 5 inches on intestine. He also fractured his cheekbone on the back of my head while trying to protect my face. I had cervical spinal damage causing me til this day not to feel parts of my legs, I fractured my skull, and miscarried the baby. My dad broke everything but his right arm and head. He "died" 3 times and had dozens of surgeries. But through the power of prayer he remain with us today. Drunk drivers don't just kill people. They ruin lives. This man had been 3.5 times the legal limit. It kills me that there is a cross for him..but not for the child I lost. My father was a former Marine...two tours in Vietnam and worked his whole life. Now confined to a wheelchair and on a SS salary. The driver lucked out. He died. He doesn't have to face the obstacles we have and still do. To this very day I shake when I hear a helicopter. I cringe at the sound of sirens. I have never gotten a license. And I do not leave my house on that day though I've moved out of state. I was blessed with a daughter almost a year to the date later. And that's what keeps me going. People don't realize that one wrong decision can make for a world of heart ache. I harbor no ill will against this man or his family. I just wish when he left that bar he'd have had a designated driver. I wish he'd have thought of his family. I wish he hadn't drove drunk.