Tragedy from alcohol addiction; an Innocent Pays the Price

I didn’t know if I should write this.

I asked a number of people, and the unanimous consensus was that I should go ahead and do so because it might help other people with their battles with drug and alcohol addiction. Although I didn’t know him very well myself, I do know that he would have wanted to help people.

Not even 72 hours ago, one of my younger brother’s closest lifelong friends was struck and killed in a hit and run accident in San Diego. The driver, an 18-year-old girl, turned herself in and admitted she had been drinking. Nevertheless, the mistake had already been made, and the world lost a truly remarkable human being as a result. Although it does little to soothe the pain and anger at such a pointless loss of life, I have to say that I appreciate the girl’s courage and willingness to be held accountable for her actions. The guilt of knowing that her recklessness and selfishness took the life of someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s friend, is going to be a tremendous burden that she will bear for the rest of her life. Hopefully it does not cost her years of her life as well as all of those of the young man.

He was brilliant, he was exceptionally talented, and he was kind. He was a gentleman, he was responsible, and he will continue to be a role model. It quite simply could not have happened to a more undeserving person. He was a devout Christian and he treated all people, of all backgrounds and all groups, with the same friendliness and respect that we wish was more common in the world today. He did all the right things and lived his life the right way. Despite the cliché, there is no other way to describe a loss like this than to say, “It just isn’t fair.”

I pray for his family, the families of his friends, and for my family. My brother has already lost a dear friend barely a couple years ago, and before that we lost our cousin, and before that another friend in eerily similar circumstances: a hit and run by a drunk driver in San Diego while crossing the street. I pray for him and his friends.

I remember going to a few of his and my brother’s football games, and every time we would see and hear about the astonishing plays that this little Japanese guy kept running, up and down the field, game after game. I remember the team celebrations at my parents’ house, and while the team got rowdier as the night wore on, he was always sitting there, just as polite, mild-mannered, and soft-spoken as before.

Some of those teammates have found their ways into various California drug rehab programs already, but this young man was different. I never saw or ever heard of him getting wild and tearing apart a hotel room, or getting into fights, or getting sick from drinking too much. It didn’t matter if you were on the football team or the math club. Everyone received the same kindness and respect from him, and in turn, all people who met him noticed and reciprocated.

No one plans on these things happening when they drink and drive. They think of the immediate situation and not the far reaching consequences that may result…they don’t think of the gifts they may rob from the world. Even if someone acts responsibly, and doesn’t drink to excess, they are not immune from the tragedies wrought by the actions of others who do. Most heartbreaking of all, is this is not the first, nor the last time such a travesty will unfold.

If you or someone you know drinks and drives or otherwise acts recklessly while under the influence, please contact us. We are an Orange County drug and alcohol treatment program that deals with addiction and its consequences on a daily basis, and we can help. Our compassionate staff is standing by to help before another devastating loss can occur.

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