Sunday, January 27, 2013
While some of you may know about the boating accident my daughter was involved in last spring, others of you do not. You can read past blog entries to learn what happened to our family on the night of May 19, 2012 to understand better what you are about to read.
In the months that have followed that night, my daughter has accepted her loss and has tried to focus on the life that has been left for her. She is still healing physically, after three surgeries to heal her broken leg and while she struggles emotionally, at times, she is strong and remains positive.
In December, more tragedy struck this group of friends. The drivers of the two boats, also her friends, were charged in the case. While that, in itself, was devastating to them and my daughter, there is now a no contact order between all of them. This is horrific to my daughter as that is two more friends she feels she has lost. They have petitioned the court to allow them to see each other, but the reporting and the prosecution calls my daughter a victim, and calls her friends criminals which has lead to an unnecessary ugliness. This was a horrifying accident! It has hurt our family and families of those we love. All the kids on that boat were extremely close and the whole situation is disrespectful to the love they shared. And, while, yes, there are those who believe differently than I do, I am appalled at those feelings being applied to me and my daughter.
The following is a letter I recently wrote to our local paper, with my feelings on the case. I am sharing it here to perhaps reach more people, but to also explain my absence on this blog. My mind is occupied. My heart is heavy. I don't like negativity and, while we remain positive for the most part, we are still heartbroken and I fear more heartbreak is to come. Thanks for letting me share this letter and, though, I know some of it's content you won't understand, I hope it's underlying meaning is clear.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY
As Judge Michael Shilling “ponders boat case requests”, I am pondering whether or not I should even write this letter. My head tells me I am writing out of anger, but my heart encourages me that I am doing the right thing. So, while my head will guide my hand, my heart will lend the words. Let me add that it is not my intent to hurt anybody, but there are times when the truth hurts and I will only speak the truth-from my heart and that of my daughter.
There have been many articles written in The Hawkeye about the boating accident last spring. Most recent, of course, are those written by Andy Hoffman concerning the charges against and impending trial of Doug Metcalf and Joey Schier. In those articles, the word victim is used freely. I am opposed to that reference and appalled that my daughter is included in it. And, while I am not blaming Mr. Hoffman, as he is quoting the Assistant County Attorney, Jennifer Bailey, I am addressing him, as good reporting would require investigating the stories, wouldn’t it?
So, I ask you, Mr. Hoffman, have you ever MET my daughter? Do you even know her name? Do you know what happened to her that night? Are you aware of her relationship with those we lost? Do you know her relationship with Doug or Joey? The same question is directed to Jennifer Bailey.
Have you ever thought about what she thinks about every day? Ever think about what she feels when she reads about her friends being called criminals and then finds herself being called a victim? Do you think about what it feels like to be a survivor in this case? Do you really think you are making that a good thing? You are NOT!
Do you know how she feels to be told how lucky she is? Do you think for one minute that my daughter feels LUCKY? Not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about the families of and her friends she lost. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of them. There is a pain in those moments that you will never know!
I know there are many people who say I would feel different if my daughter had not survived and yes, I would feel different. My heart would be broken for life. But, I would not be selfish in the way I honored her memory. Through a broken heart, I would honor her memory by fighting for her friends in the way she would want me to. She got on that boat with free will and I know my daughter and I know what she would have wanted. She would have wanted her friends to be supported. She would not want them blamed. And she would have wanted me to stand in support in her absence.
She lost four of her friends that night. Four people that she loved very much were taken from her. Not by Doug or Joey, but by God. In a tragic, mind shattering, life changing, and heart breaking moment, her friends were gone. Nothing will change that. Putting Doug and Joey on trial will not change that. It won’t change the memory of it. It won’t teach a lesson. It won’t bring them back and it doesn’t honor their memory.
Now, she has lost two more friends. She can’t see or talk to them? What kind of compassion is that? How is that helping my daughter? How is that helping any of us? What do you really think Doug or Joey is going to do? My Lord, they are FRIENDS! They are not enemies who have to fear each other. Do you think Doug or Joey would pursue talking to people that don’t want them around? No, they would not. But, those of us who love them want to see them.
I was there the night of the accident. In the hours after the accident and in the days after. I saw pain. I saw hurt. I saw love. You can’t take that away, Mr. Hoffman or Ms. Bailey. No matter how ugly a picture you try to paint by writing your articles or pursuing putting Doug and Joey on trial. I know the truth. I saw it. You have no idea what these kids went through. And through their pain, they were there for my daughter, every single day, making her smile and letting her cry. And crying with her. You can’t write about that kind of love by calling them victims. Or criminals. You can only use the word FRIENDS.
Also, Mr. Hoffman, when you state in the paper, that “no other witnesses or families of the victims were present”, it implies that it was our choice not to attend. The reporting also implies that ALL the families want no contact, want prosecution, and want “justice”. So, as a family member, a RIVER RATS 12 MOM to be precise, let me state for the record, on the record, and for all to know, I am NOT made aware of any of the hearings, asked to participate, nor have I EVER been asked what I want, what I feel, or what I believe to be justice.
Notice they are called the RIVER RATS 12. Not TEN! NOT EIGHT! NOT SIX! They are the RIVER RATS TWELVE! Did you know that? Our community did that.
There were 12 kids that night. She’s NOT a victim. She’s a friend. And yes, she is a survivor. Please, let that be a good thing. Let these kids move on and honor their friends. They were ALL friends.
Oh, and one more thing. My daughter’s name is Jennifer Parcel, and her life was saved that night. And, so was Doug’s. And Rene’s, Katie’s, and Chris’. Want to know by whom? Michael Shea, Jed Thomas, and… Joey Schier!! That doesn’t sound like victims or criminals to me…sounds like heroes!
Kimberly J. Coleman
Mother of Jennifer Parcel of the RIVER RATS 12