Driving Drunk Continues to Kill

Marie Lowe By Marie Lowe, 5th Apr 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/19pht5hy/
Posted in Wikinut>News>Crime

A DUI accident killed a man in 2007 and his mother remembered him as a tough quiet guy.

DUI accidents always change lives

Accidents caused by drunk drivers remains a fact of life. These accidents leave lasting impacts on the families involved and the first responders and sometimes reporters who respond to them.
At approximately 7:45 p.m. Feb. 19, 2007, I responded to what turned out to be a fatality accident. It is still one of the most disturbing accident scenes I have seen.

The man who was killed died on the roadway in front of people he didn't know. His friend was seriously injured and airlifted from the scene to a hospital. He survived but is said to suffer from pain continuously and has been in legal trouble many times since.

The man blamed for the accident later admitted to drinking at least three beers and was not seriously injured. It would be 18 months after the accident before the drunk driver was sentenced. He pleaded no contest to first degree manslaughter.

Before he could be led off to jail, he had to listen to the victim's mother speak about the night that changed the lives of at least three families.

Victim's mother speaks

A tough quiet guy is how Carolyn Tidwell described her son, Kenneth, in a Kay County Oklahoma courtroom during a victim's impact statement. Kenneth Tidwell, 46, was killed in the accident caused by drunk driver, then 35-year-old Ross Jackson Edens.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol concluded that the accident occurred when Edens was traveling southbound on Waverly and failed to stop at a stop sign, striking a vehicle driven by Paul Bates in which Tidwell was a passenger. Tidwell was pronounced dead at the scene.
"My son's name was mentioned one time during the five hearings held here," Carolyn said. "It didn't seem much to me that this was about my son. The other man that was injured, his name was never mentioned in the trial. On Feb. 19, 2007, my husband and I were awakened by the ringing of the doorbell and loud knocking," she said while fighting back tears.
"When we opened the door we were met by a Highway Patrol trooper, a Ponca City police officer and a minister. And when that happens you know something awful has visited your family. They had come to tell us that Ken had been killed by a drunk driver. The trooper said he did not suffer and I wondered how he knew that."
Edens stared downward as Tidwell spoke about the shock her family felt and how painful it was to tell their grandchildren that their father had been killed by a drunk driver.
"That was the beginning of heartbreak that still goes on to this very day," wept Tidwell.
"We will never be the same and none of his friends will be either. That night another person was severely injured and not expected to live. Although he did survive he is in constant pain and his life will never be the same."

The funeral arrangements

Tidwell spoke of the heartbreak when her family went to the funeral home to make arrangements and were told that they should not view their son because of his injuries.
"The funeral director talked about his beautiful curly hair," Tidwell said. "We did make the choice not to see him. I don't know if we made the right decision because since I didn't see him. There are days I still think he might walk in the door and ask what I'm cooking for supper."
She spoke of the pain her grandchildren feel, the nightmares they have and the anger issues they are dealing with.
"My granddaughter has nightmares that her father needs help and she is unable to assist," she said.
Tidwell looked at Edens and told him that she believes the sentence recommended by the district attorney's office was light.
Edens was sentenced to 15 years in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections However, after he completed the Bill Johnson Program, which was less than a year, the remainder of the sentence is suspended.
"I hope you understand our feelings about that," Tidwell said. "My son is gone forever. But I also hope you understand that you have been given a second chance with your family. You walked away with very little in the way of injuries. I do hope your conscious will always remind you how lucky you and your family are. Because it could also had been your parents who were awakened that night to tragic news. We ask that you never drink and drive again."

The judge speaks

Before imposing sentencing then District Judge D.W. Boyd took time to speak about the difficulties of presiding over drunk driving accident cases.
"These are one of the most difficult cases in the courthouse," Boyd said. "The defendant is often a good person and provider. Their bosses, family and friends vouch for them on the stand. There are so many crimes before the court that are intentional and these crimes are unintentional. But the other side is it is so preventable. I sit up here and I lecture and visit clubs, civic organizations and schools and tell kids don't drink and drive. I can say how stupid it is and still someone will drink, take a key, start an ignition and drive."
Boyd said on average at least one person is killed in Kay County every year by a drunk driver and many are maimed.
Boyd looked at Edens and said he struggles with the sentence recommended by the district attorney's office.
"Not because I think you are evil or that more punishment will bring Ken back," Boyd said. "But if I thought a life sentence would make people stop drinking and driving, I would make you the example."
Liz Gifford of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said she was disappointed in the punishment.
"I'm little disappointed with the way this turned out because of the simple fact this was a human life," Gifford said. "I understand that there is nothing that would be comparable but still this was very, very light."

The aftermath

Edens served a short sentence in prison and remains free on probation until 2023.
Kenneth Loyd Tidwell is buried in a cemetery in Tonkawa, Oklahoma.
Bates has been in out of trouble with the law since the accident.

Tags

Dui, Oklahoma

Meet the author

author avatar Marie Lowe
I earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma.
My motto- Life is like a marathon, the closer you get to the end, the more it hurts.

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Comments

author avatar Retired
5th Apr 2015 (#)

But these murderers who get behind the wheel of a car to kill people are giving the chance to do it again and again and again. UNBELIEVABLE

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author avatar Kingwell
5th Apr 2015 (#)

While it is true that almost all drunk drivers never expect to kill anyone, it still happens. I'm all for second chances for such people but if one is ever caught driving while drunk again he/she should never be allowed to drive again and should be ordered to take therapy. Blessings.

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author avatar Carol Roach
6th Apr 2015 (#)

I can't understand how people continue to drink and drive

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