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The Young Victims of Drunk Driving
Posted by Charles Esslinger on Mar 14th, 2014

3-year-old killed by drunk driver:

Josiah Caden Jenkins was pronounced dead around 8 a.m. Tuesday morning after being injured in a collision involving an intoxicated driver. The 3-year-old and his mother, Latoya Jenkins, were struck by a drunk driver around 10 p.m. Friday night on North Springs Road in Columbia, South Carolina. According to Josiah's great uncle, Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins, the boy and his mother were out that evening to celebrate Josiah's appearance in a Lewis Greenview Elementary School newsletter. At the time of the crash, they were on their way to get some pizza.

“I would like to thank everyone who has offered their support and prayers for Josiah and our family during the last four days and ask that you keep our family in your prayers today and in the days to come as we grieve the loss of such a wonderful boy who was taken from this world at such a young age,” Aubrey Jenkins said in a press release.

The suspect in the case, Lonnie Gross III, 44, is currently being held without bond in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. Although he was initially charged with driving under suspension and felony driving under the influence, the charges were upgraded to felony DUI resulting in death after the passing of Josiah.

As is often the case, Gross has a long history of DUI convictions. He was convicted of drunk driving in Lexington (1993), Elgin (2000), and Kershaw County (1999 and 2007). As of this Friday, Gross was out on bond awaiting trail for yet another DUI, which occurred in November of 2013.

Sadly, there are laws that have been proposed by the South Carolina legislature that may have helped to prevent this tragedy. “Emma's Law,” for instance, would require the use of ignition interlock systems for people who have been convicted of driving under the influence. The bill, which is currently on its way through the House Judiciary Committee, was named after a first-grader who was killed by a drunk driver on New Year's Day of 2012.

This time around, Aubrey Jenkins says he'll do everything he can to keep Gross behind bars. At Gross's bond hearing on Saturday, he came to urge the presiding judge to keep the man who killed his young nephew in jail. “We don't want this man to get out of jail on bond – then this could happen to somebody else,” he said.


Mother confronts drunk driver who injured her son:

As Loubna Elharazin Khader walked into Tarrant County Jail, she had a photograph of her 6-year-old son Abdallah clutched in her trembling hands. The picture, which was from about four years ago, showed a smiling boy, happy and healthy. However, that wasn't the only picture Khader brought with her. In the other photograph she brought along, Abdallah is shown as he is now, locked in a vegetative state.

The reason Khader came to the prison was to confront the man who injured her son in a horrific drunk driving collision. In 2009, Stewart Richardson rear-ended the Khader family's Honda Accord, injuring everyone in the vehicle. Abdallah, who was only 2 at the time, received the most serious injuries. When he was brought to the hospital, doctors said that 80% of his brain was destroyed from bruising, strokes, and skull fractures. In the past year, Abdallah has already been rushed to the intensive care unit four times. After the collision, doctors gave him just five years to live.

According to Richardson, he's been waiting a long time to apologize for his transgression. This Tuesday, Khader was finally ready to confront him. “Can you hear me?,” she asked Richardson, positioning the photo of her son in front of him. “Can you hear me? Look at this face! Look him!” Richardson glanced at the picture briefly before looking away. “I look at him everyday,” he said. “I'm sorry.”

Although Richardson tried to several times, it just wasn't enough. He didn't get up to leave, however. He sat there, took the blame he deserved, and let a grieving mother pour out her rage until she could no longer continue. “I'm supposed to go home now and my son is going to be OK because you said you're sorry,” Khader yelled. “It's been five years today. Five years! My son is dying every single day.”

When Richardson left to go back to his cell, all Khader could do was slump into her seat and cry. It remains unclear whether or not the confrontation helped her come to peace with her son's fate. As a mother, that may not be possible.


Sources:

The State - http://www.thestate.com/2014/03/11/3319115/3-year-old-dies-following-suspected.html

USA Today - http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/21/dwi-suspect-faces-victim/5704547/