I was really moved by an article in today’s paper. Larry Haywood is a victim of a drunk driver who killed his daughter and grandson twenty years ago. This week, he was speaking to a group of 250 people who were on probation for drunk driving, and who were required by the Court as part of their probation to attend Mr. Haywood’s presentation.
Mr. Haywood told the room of people that on the night of the crash, his daughter and grandson stopped by so that his grandson could show off his new clothes and school supplies that he’d gotten for his first day of kindergarten. Tragically, they were both killed that night on their way home by a drunk driver who crossed the center line.
“He didn’t get to take that box of crayons to school…He didn’t get to ride that school bus…It don’t always happen to someone else,” Haywood told his captive audience, some with tears spilling down their faces. “My daughter only had four miles to go. Yesterday, 20 years ago, Tina and Eddie were killed. Today is the day we were making funeral arrangements.”
Maybe this article hit home with me because my son is starting kindergarten next week. Maybe it hit home because I’ve unfortunately represented so many clients who have either been seriously injured or lost a loved one because of a drunk driver. My guess is that it’s probably a combination of both.
I applaud Mr. Haywood’s courage. It takes a lot to be willing to stand up in front of other people and share such a painful part of his life. After all, every time he tells the story, he relives it. The wound is made fresh all over again.
However, I have no doubt that over the years he has helped many people make better choices with their lives. We can’t know how many people he has saved from a similar fate, from suffering such a horrible and unnecessary loss. I’m sure, though, that there are people who leave his presentation and commit themselves to never drinking and driving again. As a result, our community is a little bit safer each time he courageously steps onto that stage and shares how his life was forever changed.
Thank you, Larry Haywood. Thank you.