Choices & Consequences by Chelsea Powell

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1 VOICE Where Caring Brings Remembrance and Hope The VOICE is a publication of the DUI Victim Center of Kansas at 355 North Waco, Suite 220 Wichita, KS Vol. 15, Issue 2 Autumn Edition 2011 Choices & Consequences by Chelsea Powell It was a Friday night just like any other. I got off work after a long week and I was looking forward to meeting up with friends to relax and kick off the weekend. I picked up my sister around 7:15 p.m. and we headed North to Wichita to meet our cousin for dinner. We were in Derby on K-15 when I saw a car about a half mile ahead make an erratic lane change and nearly go into the ditch. I was focused on what was developing ahead of me, expecting to come up on an accident. It was only a couple of seconds later when a car crossed the median hitting my SUV head on at speeds of approximately 80 miles per hour. help me get out of my burning vehicle. They didn t want to risk causing further injury. I thought to myself, I can t believe that I survived the collision and now I am going to burn to death in my vehicle. Finally, a man that heard my pleas for help came running to my rescue. To get me out of the vehicle, he had to bend the entire door frame in half and reach in and pull me out. Once I was out of the vehicle, I could really see how intense the fire was getting. My uncle is a firefighter and happened to be on the scene that night, he told me that had someone not pulled me out of the vehicle, I would have burnt to death or at minimum been disfigured for life due to severe burning. I owe my life to the gentleman that pulled me out of my vehicle that night. My cousin, the one that we were meeting for dinner, was driving only a couple of minutes behind us and drove up on the crash. Turns out, the erratic lane change ahead of me was caused by a drunk driver that side swiped a car while driving in the wrong lane of traffic. He was fleeing the scene, probably to escape a DUI, when he lost control of his vehicle causing him to cross the median and hit my car head on. The minutes that followed the collision were some of the scariest, most uncertain moments of my life as well as my loved ones. When I regained consciousness, I can remember looking over to see my sister hunched over the dashboard looking lifeless. I asked her if she was ok, knowing what I was really asking was if she was alive. She didn t answer, so I asked her again a little louder, still no response. At this point, panic was setting in. My sister is my best friend, and I feared what life would be like without her in it. I asked her one more time praying that I would get a response. That time, she groaned at me, but nothing more. She then rolled out of the vehicle and that was the last thing I heard from her until we met again in the hospital. The collision was so intense that it ignited a fire in the engine of my vehicle. When I noticed the fire, I immediately tried to open my door to get out, but the door was jammed and I was stuck. I thought about trying to get out through the passenger side door which was still open, but I couldn t feel the right side of my body, and couldn t get myself over there. I pleaded for help with bystanders that were standing around the car and no one would She knew it was my car and she knew it was bad, especially when she saw the condition we were in. She called my mom to let her know of the crash and that she needed to get there quickly. As my mom and dad drove to the scene, they didn t know for sure if we were dead or alive. That was the longest, scariest drive of their life. My husband works for the Sedgwick County Sheriff s office as a deputy and was working that night. He heard the entire call being Continued on Page 4

2 Former Intern Returns to Lead Court Watch In January, the DUI Victim Center of Kansas welcomed Sergio Martinez-Villa as its new Court Liaison. Villa was familiar with the Court Watch program as one of the first interns hired in Villa is a recent graduate from Wichita State University with a Master s degree in Criminal Justice. At WSU Villa participated in the Governor s Task Force on racial profiling. This research project was directed by Dr. Michael Birzer, Chair of the School of Community Affairs and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice. Villa was a member of the Criminal Justice Student Association at WSU. After graduating Villa interned with the U.S. Marshal s Service. He serves on the board of Northside Market (NOMAR International Market), promoting economic growth and development. He is involved in the Hispanic-American Leadership Organization (HALO). He is a Parent-Teacher volunteer at Earhart Magnet Elementary and treasurer for the Parent- Teacher Association at Pleasant Valley Middle School. Villa was born in Coronado, Mexico. He and his wife, Maria, have two children Carlos (10) and Ivy (11). Villa s familiarity with Court Watch and community involvement make him a valuable asset to the DUI Victim Center. He hopes to build strong partnerships with the interns, volunteers and the court systems. Court Watch has been gathering data for a new format of the website, drawn from many hours of court monitoring DUI sentences and Drivers License (DL) hearings. Sergio Martinez-Villa, the new Court Liaison Court Watch Interns One of Villa s duties is oversight of the program s Intern positions. Currently, he manages three interns, all from local universities. Jermarco Jones attends Friends University where he is pursuing a Criminal Justice degree. Caitlin Carr is curently at WSU with intentions to attend Washburn for her Juris Doctorate. Lexi Longacre also attends WSU and is seeking a degree in Criminal Justice. Along with monitoring the courts, the interns will be involved in the research of the data collected through observation and publishing findings on the Center s website. The Court Watch program is funded by the Kansas Department of Transportation. Court Watch Interns Caitlin Carr, Lexi Longacre & Jermarco Jones pose with Summer Volunteer Charles Hegstrom in the Eisnebart Center. 2

3 New Victim Advocate Brings Wealth of Experience Panelist Gary Howard Joins the Staff I was born and raised here in Wichita, graduating from Wichita High School East, Bethel College and Wichita State University where I completed my graduate degree in administration of justice. In 1978, I joined the Dallas County Juvenile Department in Dallas, Texas where I began a 30 year career as a probation officer. In Dallas County, I started a Victim/Offender Mediation Program that is still in operation today serving thousands of victims and juvenile offenders since In 1986, I joined the Federal Probation System as a United States Probation Officer here in the District of Kansas and was appointed Chief U.S. Probation Officer in 1997 and served the federal court here in Kansas and in Washington D.C. as Chair of the Chiefs Advisory Group until my retirement in But you should know that none of my accomplishments would have been achieved were it not for my parents, Tom and Artis Knowles. It was they who came to the Wichita Children s Home back in April, 1965, and gave me and my two younger brothers a second chance at life. They raised us as their own children and broke a cycle of poverty, neglect and crime. I mention crime especially, because I had already been arrested for burglary when I was 7 years old. By the time I was 11, I was surely headed for a life of crime. But thanks to Tom and Artis my life took a change for the better when we went home to live with them. They encouraged solid values, a work ethic, caring for others and building a better community. As my dad use to say frequently, when I would complain about someone. Gary, learn to be friends with everybody. He lived by the premise that life is about relationships and making them better. My mom is the same way. Unfortunately, not everyone lives by that example. My dad s life ended on August 3, 2002, when a three time drunk driver who was high on meth, crashed head on into my parents car near Emporia, Ks. He was killed instantly and my mom was left to recover from critical injuries and losing a husband she had loved for more than 50 years. The drunk driver was also killed, leaving behind an infant child to be cared for by relatives. As I m finding first hand from my work as a Victim Advocate here at the DUI Victim Center of Kansas, there are so many similar tragedies, so many stories of needless injury and death from drunk driving that it is easy to want to be a part of such an important mission. It is challenging and important work that if done well, can change lives for the better. 3

4 New Statewide Coordinator to Helm DUI Victim Panel Program In March, the DUI Victim Center of Kansas welcomed Tracee O Grady as the new Statewide Victim Panel Coordinator. Tracee attended Wichita State University and graduated with a Bachelor s Degree in Criminal Justice in While attending WSU, she was a member of the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority and held several leadership positions. After graduation, she became the Financial Vice President of the Gamma Phi Beta local alumnae group and is currently President of their House Corporation Board, which handles any physical problems with the house and assists with any updates that will be made to the house. During her time at WSU and following graduation, Tracee worked at a local credit union processing debit and Continued from Front Page credit card disputes for victims of fraud. After five and a half years at the credit union, Tracee accepted a job working in the field of substance abuse prevention. She became a Community Consultant for the Wichita/ Sedgwick County Regional Prevention Center at Mirror Inc. and worked with several local coalitions and community groups throughout the area to fight substance abuse issues in their communities. Tracee was born in Liberal KS and moved to Wichita when she was young and has lived here ever since. Tracee and her husband, Shawn, have one child Rylee (6) and two dogs, Olivia and Max. The Victim Panel Coordinator position is a dream job come true for Tracee. She has always been very interested in substance abuse issues and how they affect the body as well. In her new position she will continue to learn about alcohol and its effects as well as help people in her community which is very important to her. dispatched over the radio and was certain that someone was dead in that vehicle based on the descriptions coming over the radio. When his sergeant radioed him, requesting he switch to a private station, he knew it was his wife involved and he feared it was the worst case scenario. His sergeant quickly got a hold of him to let him know who was involved and what our condition was and told him to head to the hospital to meet us. When we finally arrived at the hospital, we got X-Rays to determine our injuries. The injuries that I received were a broken right upper arm, broken ankle, shattered heel, five broken toes, and a fractured knee. My sister s injuries were just as severe. She shattered her right knee, broke her ankle, and broke both wrists. We spent seven days in the hospital undergoing several painful surgeries. We left Wesley hospital one week later, both in wheelchairs. My sister spent one month wheelchair bound and two months on crutches, and I was wheelchair bound for two months and one month on crutches. It was three months before either of us walked on our own again. It has been over two years since the crash and we are still dealing the residual effects of that night and the injuries we sustained. I have terrible arthritis in my arm, knee and ankle. There are some days that I have trouble walking at all. I have not seen my sister walk without a limp since the day of the crash. She has been told by her doctor that she will have to have a knee replacement within the next couple of years; she is only 24 and the life of a knee replacement is typically 20 years. This means that she will most likely have to experience two knee replacements during her lifetime. The driver that hit us was leaving a restaurant where he had gone after work that day to celebrate a promotion with drinks. That was a good day for him, and because of his failure to make a better decision it ended very badly for everyone. The driver was convicted of DUI, reckless driving, and two counts of aggravated battery. In this case, aggravated battery is a felony charge; therefore, he is now a convicted felon. The felony charge that he received will change the entire course of his life and the opportunities that he will have. My sister and I live with the pain and scarring that were caused by one person s poor choice to drink and drive. We didn t have a choice in this matter, we were robbed of that choice when he made the decision to drink and drive. Too many people are injured or killed in alcohol related accidents, and every single one of them could be prevented if only a better decision had been made. It is all of our responsibility to make good decisions, and also to encourage others to make good decisions when alcohol is involved. 4

5 4th Grade Poster Billboard Winners 1st Place Winner: Jerame Kennendy of Rex Elemementary 2nd Place Winner: Kyla Kongvongsay of Cooper Elemementary 3rd Place Winner: Hannah Schutte of Rex Elemementary 1st Place Prize: $200 & artwork placed on 5 billboards around Wichita Our Partners: 2nd Place Prize: $150 3rd Place Prize: $100 5

6 Coming Up: November 6, 2011 Third Annual Event 6

7 2010 Vendors: Pathfinders, Foot Solutions, Wild at Heart, Lucinda s, Huggs & Hissyfits, Dopps Chiropractic, Virginia s Tutus, Premier Designs Jewerly, Designs by Dee Dee Alexander, Phoenix Feather Extensions, Phoenix Trading Co, Scentsy Candles, Cocoa Dolce, Monica s Bundt Cake, Kay Wiggins & The Farris Wheel 2010 Sponsors: Golden Stiletto Presenting Sponsor Dawson & Patty Grimsley Papa John s Pizza Silver Slipper Presenting SponsorsDoug & Liz McGinness 2010 Table Sponsors: J.P. Weigand And Sons, Doug & Liz McGinness, Addiction Specialists of Kansas, Dr. Tim Scanlan, David Singleton, Prudential Financial, Intrust, Connell & Connell 2010 Sponsors: Access Group, BKD, KWCH 12, Kansas CW, Clear Channel Outdoor, Sharpe Printing, B98 FM, Sam s Club West & Conco Construction All photos courtesy of Season Schwind of Capture Your Moments Photography 7

8 DUI Victim Center of Kansas 355 N. Waco, Suite 220 Wichita, KS Office (316) KS Helpline (800) Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Permit No. 622 Wichita, KS a u T U M N Candlelight Vigil December 1, 2011 Botanica If you wish to be removed from our mailing list or have a change of address please call (316) or in Kansas (800)

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