Drinking and driving left six children without parents
Drinking while driving is a serious offense; the effects of alcohol and drunk driving are far-reaching and go way beyond the number of killed and injured. On average, in the United States alone, there is someone killed by a drunk driver every 40 minutes and we are all equally at risk. When someone is killed by a drunk driver we all lose. Children lose parents or grandparents; parents and grandparents lose children; friends lose friends, and none can ever be replaced.
On January 25, 2010 there was a terrible accident caused by a drunk driver who crossed the line on BIA Highway 27 east of Pine Ridge and hit an oncoming car head-on. Killed were Summer Rose Kaline, age 28, Randy Skye Kaline, age 30 and Burt Benjamin Kaline III, age 36. Left behind were their six young children (they each had two), their parents, Martyna White Hawk and Burt Kaline, their two brothers, five sisters and grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
Ironically the drunk driver, although injured and taken to the hospital for treatment, metaphorically speaking, walked away from the accident. White Hawk is afraid that the drunk driver will receive a relatively light sentence and will soon be out to drink, drive and kill again. “Overall, drunk drivers should receive stiffer penalties. They should be held accountable for what they do. I feel that most of them get off with only a few years when they actually kill somebody. They will live their lives while the families of their victims have to face life without their children, their parents. And way too often grandparents try to raise kids who have to grow up without their parents. To me that is injustice to the victim’s families,” she said.
While it is not mandatory for people on the reservation to have car insurance, White Hawk feels that it should be. “Everybody who owns a car should be made to have car insurance,” she said. “To me, to protect the Lakota Nation they should be made to have car insurance so when they kill somebody there is something to help raise those children left behind.”
And she feels that people should be more educated on the consequences of drinking and driving in that knowing they cannot “just walk out the door.” Last Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the accident that took the life of Summer, Randy and Burt Kaline. Family and friends visited the accident scene where they prayed and put spiritual food down. Then, in the memory of their loved ones and in an effort make the community aware of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the White Hawk and Kaline families sponsored a Candle Light Vigil. Family and friends met in front of the Wounded Knee School District in Manderson and walked to the College Center. Each walker carried a lighted candle.
Once at the college Chris Eagle Hawk, who is a grandfather to the Kaline siblings, spoke about the memorial walk and dinner, “It is very important that we do these things, because it is part of the healing. We have gone a whole year and tonight we are going to let them go, take their journey. Because if we keep on holding on to them they’ll never go home. If they were to come back and find us all sad and doing a lot of drinking and doing drugs and fighting and all this stuff, they would probably chew us out and ask, ‘Why are you doing this?’ They want us to be happy. That way when they make their journey home they will be happy too.”
He also told the children, “It is important to know who you are and who your relations are. Even if your mother and dad are not together, find out who your mother is, your dad, who your grandparents are on your mother’s side, on your dad’s side. It is very important to know who your relatives are, to recognize your relatives. And you need to start listening. If you want to be good at anything in life, you have to be good listeners. And remember, no matter what you are, you are still Lakota first. You can dress all kinds of ways, have all kinds of hair dos, but you are still Lakota. Always remember that.”
Jeff Not Help Him, Marei Kingi and Virgil Bush also gave talks filled with love, hope, encouragement and good advice. Adrian Eagle Hawk and Marei Kingi both sang songs in honor of Summer, Randy and Burt’s memories and Father Phil Cooke offered a prayer and a blessing on the food, after which everybody enjoyed a meal, also sponsored by the White Hawk and Kaline families.
“We are making the community aware of MADD and letting them know that they are out there and they have ideas that can help and hopefully put and end to drunk driving,” White Hawk said. “And when we get more local interest in MADD, we hope to start a chapter branch here.”
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers was incorporated on September 5, 1980, by Candy Lightner after her daughter, Cari, was killed by a repeat drunk driving offender. Lightner was soon joined by Cindy Lamb whose daughter, Laura, became the nation’s youngest quadriplegic at the hands of a drunk driver. Their goal; “To make the lives of American families safer.”
In its Articles of Incorporation, MADD’s first mission statement read, “To aid the victims of crimes performed by individuals driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to aid the families of such victims and to increase public awareness of the problem of drinking and drugged driving.”
Because it is opposed to the criminal act of drunk driving and not to individuals, MADD, in 1984, changed its name from “Mothers Against Drunk Drivers” to “Mothers Against Drunk Driving.”
In 1999 they expanded their work on preventing underage drinking. These efforts were encouraged and supported by the government, corporations, educators, the media and the public. The mission statement was officially changed to make preventing underage drinking a free-standing prong of the mission. The updated mission continues to guide the organization today and reads, “The mission of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking.” And its campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving has the goal of protecting families from drunk driving and ultimately ending the threat of drunk driving on American roads by supporting law enforcement heroes who keep roads safe, by catching drunk drivers and discouraging others from driving drunk and by requiring convicted drunk drivers to have cars installed with ignition interlock devices or in-car breathalyzers that require all convicted drunk drivers to prove they are sober before the car will start.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving states, “Our success is measured in the number of lives saved. Drunken driving fatalities declined 12 percent from 2006 to 2008, which means that, together, we’ve saved thousands of lives in just those two years. All together, we have saved almost