Thursday, April 27, 2006

Close to Home (Friends and Neighbors in the News II)

On Sunday, a young woman and her unborn child were killed by a drunk driver in Lancaster. The story has been all over the news here, and in Tuesday's newspapers we started to learn a little more about the victims. As tragic as it is, it hit especially close to home because of the eerie similarities between Michelle and I and the family that was tragically broken in the crash.

According to the Sentinel and Enterprise, Katelin DiSessa was schedule to give birth to her baby boy in late May, had been to her shower on April 1, and had recently finished the baby's room. She was killed when the drunk driver struck the SUV she and the baby's father were riding in around 6:00 pm Sunday on Sterling Street (rte. 62), as they headed back to their home in Leominster. They had been visiting his parents in Clinton.

Michelle and I are expecting the last week of May. We celebrated our baby shower on April 2, and have recently finished furnishing Jackson's room. On any given Sunday evening, we could be found driving our SUV up Sterling Street to our home in Leominster after a visit to Rota Spring Farms for ice cream or to my parents in Clinton.

The other thing that caught my eye in the article was the name of the officer on the scene, a friend I knew from my days teaching at AUC:

[James] Rousseau, after the crash, kept asking if his bride-to-be would be all right, according to Lancaster Police Officer Juan D. Ramos.

"All he said was, 'Is she going to be OK?'" Ramos wrote in his police report, which graphically described the scene where DiSessa was trapped inside the SUV.

Steven Fugure, an off-duty Sterling police officer, witnessed the wreck and told Ramos he was driving behind the couple's SUV when Zoller began driving straight at them, according to Ramos' report.

Rousseau, who was heading west, swerved to the left to avoid Zoller's white 2003 Ford van, but the van struck the passenger's side of the SUV, Fugere told Ramos, according to Ramos' report.

Zoller smelled like alcohol, slurred his words and had bloodshot eyes when he spoke to Ramos after the crash, according to Ramos' report.

Police arrested Zoller after he failed field sobriety tests, according to Ramos.
I can't imagine the grief that father and fiance must be feeling, but reading the account I was also struck with how difficult these sorts of tragedies must be on the police, fire, EMTs, etc. that have to respond. In addition to Juan, I know that a friend of my sister-in-law also was on the scene as an EMT, and I probably know some of the other emergency personnel that were called to the scene. The Lancaster Times and Clinton Courier had a story today on how they try to deal with the experience.

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