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Panel tells students of the consequences of drunk driving


by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Lorie Shaddix tells the students of the life of her daughter Krissy.A student presented Lorie Shaddix with a flower after she told the Estacada High School student body how her only daughter was killed by a drunk driver on her 21st birthday.

Drug-Free Estacada Families and Youth brought three speakers from Oregon Impact to speak at Estacada High School on Thursday, May 30.

Oregon Impact in a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Through Oregon Impact, victims and perpetrators give presentations on how driving under the influence has personally impacted their lives.

Joan Miller was the first speaker at the EHS assembly.

In June 1999, Miller and her husband were driving when they were rear-ended and broad-sided in a crash so serious Miller’s skull broke into 24 pieces.

Three cars and six people were involved in the crash. It was caused by one drunk driver.

The Millers were rushed to the hospital, where Joan Miller underwent emergency brain surgery.

Doctors told family members that if she survived at all she would likely be a “vegetable.”

Miller spent four days in a coma and two weeks in the ICU. Her medical bills already totaled over a million dollars.

“Do you think that was my choice?” Miller asked the students periodically.

Miller survived but will suffer the complications of a traumatic brain injury for the rest of her life.

She explained that she had to relearn basic living skills such as walking, talking, swallowing, visiting the bathroom and the difference between hot and cold and sweet and sour.

Miller told the students how she had trouble identifying places and things: she was sure that the hospital she was in was St. Mary’s Academy, where she’d gone to high school. She couldn’t recognize a toaster.

Sometimes she couldn’t pick her real hands and feet from the many illusory hands and feet her brain and damaged optic nerve were projecting.

When she finally got to come home from the hospital, she was sure that her house was in fact, her sister’s house.

She couldn’t recognize her dog.

She couldn’t remember her husband’s name.

“I said, ‘I know I married you, but I can’t remember your name!’ Do you think that was his choice?” Miller said.

Miller outlined grueling surgeries and medical procedures- including an injection of botox shot directly into her eye.

She told the students that to this day, nearly 14 years after the crash, she still has difficulty with fatigue, depth perception, severe teeth grinding and she still can’t find the restroom in a dear friend’s home. She has to be led there every time.

Due to the traumatic brain injury, she is unable to drive or work.

Not including the loss of income she and her husband have suffered, she was responsible for $1.3 million in medical bills.

“Because of that drunk driver all of these choices were made for me, and that’s not cool,” she said.

“Everything you do is about choice,” she reminded the students.

Miller is Sandy Police Chief Kim Yamashita’s sister.

Bill Bray told the students that even after two convictions for drinking and driving, he was still not convinced that he was an alcoholic.

With each conviction he was forced to attend a panel, similar to the panel he was speaking in at the assembly.

He was annoyed that he had to be there and pay for it since he hadn’t hurt anyone.

At the close of the panels he was told, “Hopefully you’ve learned something; if you haven’t, you’ll be back.”

Bray was certain that with his master’s degree, law school acceptance letter and prestigious military career that there was no way he could be an alcoholic.

But a head-on collision with a telephone pole convinced him otherwise.

After the crash, he flat-lined in the ambulance and in the hospital at OHSU.

“I died twice,” he told the students.

Bray sustained numerous injuries and had to be kept on life support for several days.

When he finally regained consciousness he thought, “Oh, my God, I killed someone. There’s no way I can live with this. There’s no way I can live.”

If that turned out to be the case, he was ready to take his own life.

When he got up the courage to ask the nurse if anyone else had been involved in the crash, she replied, “’It was just you and a telephone pole. And you lost, kiddo.”

He finally realized he had a problem.

“Alcohol and drugs don’t care how smart you are, how strong you are or how powerful your family is,” Bray said.

Bray told the students that he is not allowed to have a driver’s license for ten years.

He asked the students to imagine what it’s like to have your parents drive them around at age 43.

Not to mention how he has been impacted financially.

He will be paying off his medical bills for the rest of his life.

Despite his impressive resume, his three criminal convictions for driving under the influence are very hard for an employer to overlook.

“Guys, I just ask, make smart choices. Be safe,” he said.

Lorie Shaddix took the stage to speak of her only child, Krissy Shaddix.

Shaddix told the students various aspects of Krissy’s life- how she’d been accepted to six colleges, her best friend, Jessica Blanck, her boyfriend, her puppy and how she loved working at Victoria’s Secret.

“Her goal was to have enough underwear to not do laundry for an entire year,” Shaddix remembered fondly.

Blanck offered to be Krissy’s designated driver for her 21rst birthday on April 29, 2007.

The girls spent three and a half hours getting ready and snapped pictures throughout the evening.

The happy occasion ended tragically.

“I got a knock on the door. My baby was never coming home again,” Shaddix said.

A woman driving the wrong way on State Route 14 crashed head-on into the car carrying Blanck and Krissy Shaddix. They were killed.

The coroner’s report showed that Blanck and Shaddix had zero percent blood alcohol content while the woman that killed them had a blood alcohol content well over the legal limit to drive, even after receiving four pints of blood.

Shaddix told the stunned audience that because of this person’s decision to get behind the wheel after drinking, she would never see her daughter graduate or get married. She would never have grandchildren.

“Your decisions affect so many others,” she said.

Shaddix showed a slide of the last picture ever taken of her daughter. Krissy beams at the camera, wearing a sparkly birthday tiara.

The final slide read: “We don’t want you to have a final picture.”

The day after the assembly, on Friday, May 31, 178 EHS students took a “safe driving pledge” and signed DEFY’s Safe Driving Banner.

The banner will be hung in the high school commons.