Family Awaits Justice
Funny how memories--especially troublesome ones--tend to fade a bit and yellow around the edges like old newspapers until something forces us to re-examine the past.
That's what happened last week when I watched the news report in disbelief that the man who killed a 15 year old at my former high school in a drunken driving accident almost 13 years ago was involved in another fatal accident.
This time a 36-year-old single mother died. According to news reports, police did not believe alcohol or drugs were involved in the collision which occurred over Labor Day. Speed apparently might have been.
Although police are expected to refer the case to a Dallas County grand jury, six months later no charges have been filed and the family is crying out for justice.
It was quite a different story those 13 years ago. I rummaged through my box of high school newspapers until I found the two issues I was looking for that covered Stefani Robertson's death and the aftermath it wrought. In a plea bargain agreement, the driver, Christopher Clary, received 10 years probation and was ordered to purchase public service ads marking Stefani's death in the school newspaper I advised at the time.
The cost for those five years worth of ads was $500, and I remember feeling profoundly sad that a life could be bartered for a mere $500. That feeling has not abated even after all these years.
I'm sure Clary has no idea how many lives shattered that December day in 1998 or how many remain fragmented to this day.
I was so troubled by the latest news reports that instead of discussing our normal current events on Friday in my journalism class, I showed the television news coverage and read the poignant piece written 10 years ago about Stefani's death.
In the article, Stefani's mother said, "It's those little things that get to me. Those things we never got to do together. Instead of buying her a car, I was buying her a coffin. Instead of picking out a college, I was picking out a cemetery plot. We missed out on so much."
And now another family awaits justice.