Love does not end with dying

by Julie Downs- mother

Brad, Samantha and Chris..

Brad, Samantha and Chris..

Brad, Samantha and Chris..
Brad and in love
Do not drink and drive
Gone to soon

Click on each picture to enlarge

I want to tell you about the most precious treasure that was stolen from me. I didn't lose it... IT WAS STOLEN!

My day of sadness is about my son Brad, 21, his wife of 3 1/2 months, Samantha, 19, and Chris, who I had grown to love as a son, 24. All three of them were living at home with us (me, my husband and handicap daughter....)

October 6, 2007 was an ordinary fall day. It was a Saturday, as I headed home from work, Chris called and said they were hungry... I couldn't understand why 3 adult (kids) couldn't cook for themselves, so as a joke I stopped at Backyard Burgers and got all 3 of them a kids meal.. They laughed about it when I gave it to them and said they would have to get themselves something on the way out because they were still hungry.... They left the house around 6:00 p.m. to go to the car races. They were only gone for an hour when they came home and said that the races were cancelled because of the rain and they were going to change clothes and go to the movies... As they left for the second time that night, I was on the computer checking my email. Chris bent down and gave me a hug and told me that he loved me. I told him to have fun and that I loved him too. Samantha was smiling as she walked out the door saying goodbye. I told her to have fun and that she looked very pretty. When Brad got to the door he turned around and said "Mom, see you when we get home. I love you." I told him to drive careful and to have a good time and that I loved him too.

An hour later my husband called to say he was going to be a little longer getting home because he had to detour around a car crash on Hwy 53. I told him I would call the kids to let them know so they could come home the back way just in case it was still blocked. I dialed Brad's number and he didn't answer. Not thinking anything at this point, I called Samantha. She didn't answer either... Then out of panic, I called Chris...No answer.. I called my husband and told him to go back to the crash site and see if it was them. My heart was in my throat. I knew, I just didn't realize yet how bad. My brother and sister came over to be with me and we started calling the police, the highway patrol and the hospitals. When my husband got back to the crash site the police told him to leave or they would arrest him. They knew...

My sister took my keys because I kept trying to leave. I needed to go find them. They didn't want me driving because I was so panicked. While on the phone with the local hospital I found out that 2 of the victims in the crash had been taken there. I called my husband and sent him to the hospital. Somehow, I ended up on the phone with the coroner and he kept asking me what Chris looked like. I kept yelling at him. IS MY SON DEAD? IS MY SON DEAD?? And he finally said "yes, I believe he is". I threw the phone and screamed at the top of my lungs and screamed and screamed.. "No not my baby". This couldn't be true. Things like this happen to other people; not to me.

I jumped in the car and my sister took me to the hospital. I had to get to my husband. He was fixing to find out the worse news that he would ever hear. I called him on the phone and knew that I was the one that had to tell him. He couldn't hear this from a stranger. When he answered the phone he said he was standing in the emergency room trying to get some information. All I could say was "Bill? Bill? your baby is gone. It was him. He didn't make it. None of them made it. They're all dead. He dropped the phone and I rushed to the hospital to be with him. The coroner met me at the door and took me to Bill. Brad and Sam never made it to the hospital. They were pronounced dead out there on the road in the dark, all alone. The victims that were taken to the hospital were Chris, who was brain dead at the scene, but had a faint heart beat so they transported him; and then the passenger of the other car. Chris died in route and the other lady was air lifted out to a trauma center. Everyone else was dead; my 3 kids died and the driver of the other car.

My kids were killed because of a stupid choice made by a 38 year old DRUNK DRIVER. She was 2 times over the legal limit. She crossed over into their lane and hit them head on going 80 miles an hour, shattering not only their bodies but destroying our lives. I died that night. My husband died that night and my family is broken. It can never be fixed. Every day when we wake up our kids are still dead. We have been living this nightmare for 3 years now. And believe me there have been many days that I didn't think I could bear the pain any longer... Just the act of getting out of bed was progress. I didn't leave my house for 20 months unless I just absolutely had to. Weeks would go by with me staying in my pajamas. I didn't want to see the sunshine, I didn't want to think, I didn't want to see anyone and at times I didn't want to live.

I'm not sure when it happened but a little sunlight peeped through the fog of pain and slowly I AM rebuilding a life.. It's not the life I want but it's the life I have.

I have come full circle in my relationship with God. From Love to Hate, to longing and now back to wanting and needing Him in my life. Instead of blaming God, I now know that he did not Kill my son. The drunk driver did. The drunk driver stole my kids and stole my life...I also realize now that God has been with me through it all.. I just could not see Him through the pain.

Thank you for reading my story. And it doesn't end here. We have joined the fight against Drunk Driving and will work until the day we die to save someone else's life. MADD has giving us a voice and we will not stop!


Comments for Love does not end with dying

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Jan 23, 2012
by: Ryan Lynn

Thank you for sharing your story, I know it couldn't have been thank you, and I'm so sorry for your losses.

Jan 19, 2011
Not forgotten
by: Anonymous

I just read your story, over three years after years your nightmare began. I am in tears as I write this. Please know that your precious ones have not been forgotten. As time passes, it can seem like people have gone on with their lives and that your children no longer matter. But by the work you do with MADD...and by simply sharing of your are keeping their memory alive. My own boy died two years ago and it feels as if I am expected to be "over it." So I just wanted to let you know that there is at least one person still out there praying for God to bring you peace.

Jan 05, 2011
Peace Be With You
by: Anonymous

I attended a court ordered MADD meeting this evening at which your husband spoke. His story was incredibly moving. I found this site after searching your son's story and I just want to say that I am so very sorry for the loss that you and your family have suffered and will continue to suffer. I can not imagine the agony you endure each day, but I wanted to also say that I am so in awe of the work you and your husband do by telling your story. I will never forget this night, and I promise I will never make the conscious decision to drink and drive again. May God bless you and keep you.

Nov 10, 2010
you are not alone
by: Kay

I feel so sad for your loss Julie,nothing can ever be the same again. I recently lost my son,23. Nothing prepares you for the worse thing that can ever happen to a parent. I am sending you much love and healing. Just know I am thinking of you and Bill.

Nov 09, 2010
you are courageous
by: Shirley

I'm glad you are having some "good" moments again. My little sister was killed by a hit and run drunk driver 34 years ago. She was only 5 years old. It destroyed our family. I just lost my 23 year old son to leukemia three months ago today. It's heartbreaking to lose a child. I don't think I'll ever recover.

Nov 06, 2010
Thank you
by: A Ward

Thank you Julie for telling your story. It took courage to write it down. God Bless you and Bill.

Nov 06, 2010
I Understand This Part So Well
by: Jackie Moss

Slowly I AM rebuilding a life.. It's not the life I want but it's the life I have.

Recently, some reality has replaced some grief. I know I will never have my sweet daughter back. I must make the most of this life I did not want. Big hug, Julie. BIG HUG!

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