Something Needs to Change

I cannot sleep tonight. Every time I close my eyes, tears float to the surface. My heart begins to race as I realize that something needs to change.

Seven months ago, my Bishop's pregnant wife, Michelle, his son, Ben, and his daughter, Anna were killed by a drunk driver, just half a mile away from my house. I can vividly recall the blare of the sirens as the ambulances sped by our house as if it happened yesterday. There seemed to be a million of them. My bishop lives on my street. I drive by his house every day. I've tried to write this blog before, but I've always given up because words aren't enough to describe the deeply profound, and yes, sacred effect this tragedy has had on my life.

The first two months following the accident, his house was draped with pastel ribbons and bows, a color for each person that died. Eventually the ribbons were removed and everyone on my street and in my ward tried, and still fervently try, to act normal and that a tragedy of such magnitude couldn't possibly have occurred to a righteous man and his sons living just a half a block away. But we all know it did, and lessons have been learned.

My bishop (now former, he was released this past Sunday), immediately decided to forgive the teenage boy responsible for the accident. He says that after looking at his deceased wife, he knew she would want him to forgive, so he decided to forgive. After that decision, he heard his son Sam cry out from the back seat. I believe that decision has made it easier for him and his family. He now only has to deal with grief and pain. Anger has been left out of the equation. For the first five months, I couldn't look at him sitting up on the stand without the lyrics to a Paul Simon song floating through my head "...Losing love is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you're blown apart. Everyone hears the wind blow...." I found it so hard, and still do, to think of anything to say. I would say hi, smile and act overly cheery, all the while resisting an overwhelming urge to sob and tell him how sorry I was.

Tonight while watching some mindless entertainment show I hear that Lindsay Lohan is only to get a day in jail and have to finish rehab for a SECOND DUI. Now, I don't know if this is what everyone gets who gets a second dui, or if she is getting special treatment. That is beside the point. The point is that now millions of people who get drunk and drive are going to hear this. What's the worst that can happen? They'll just get some community service and a day in jail, drink and drive all you want, nothing bad will happen if you get caught.

Something needs to change. Something has to change.

The laws need to be tougher. I'm a fan of if you drink and drive your license should be suspended for life. If you get caught a second time, that's ten years in prison. There can be stipulations, like get your license back after five years for good behavior or something like that. I don't think this is too extreme or too tough.

I wonder if the judge who Okayed Lindsay's plea bargain would've made the same decision if he had lived on my street and witnessed the agony that I have witnessed. If he had to watch a man struggle as he does his best to piece together a better life for him and his sons. I daresay the outcome might have been different.

I don't know where to go from here, or if I'll ever be able to help make a change. I hope so. I hope I will be able too, but as for now, something has to change.


  1. I don't think there is anything anyone could say that would sum that up better than you did, Autumn. I had tears streaming down my face just reading that. Thank you for sharing.


  2. That incident always saddened me and amazed me at the same time at how the father forgave the drunk driver. People know better and at times my heart is hardened towards those making the wrong choices. Your former bishop is an amazing man to have to go through something like that. I still get mad/judge people that had nothing to do with my father's death. We can all learn something from this. Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this even though I'm sure it was hard to write. I think there are two vitally important messages here - how serious an offense it is to drink and drive, but also, the possibility of forgiveness in the face of tragedy. Your former bishop and his sons will be in my prayers.