Marcus Shirley fatality highlights choices about drunken driving |

Marcus Shirley fatality highlights choices about drunken driving


I know this will fit the perfect picture of a drinking-and-driving accident. A story that everyone has been told. For me this is no longer just a story.

We all know the choices we make, can and will, affect other people. Do we ever think about this fact before we make those choices? If we did, would we make different choices?

I would like to share a choice with you that a stranger made that has affected my life and changed it forever.

It was a Tuesday afternoon in early January of this year. This stranger and his friends allegedly quit work early and started drinking.

After boozing with his co-workers and nightfall approaching, knowing his wife and kids are home waiting for his return, this stranger says his good-byes. Trying to act composed, he heads for his truck. The drive home would, on a normal night, take about 45 minutes; but this is not an ordinary night.

Sitting in my apartment later that night the phone rings. I answer. The voice on the other end doesn’t sound familiar, even though it’s my own father crying.

Once he stopped crying enough so I could understand him, he spoke in a trembling voice between the tears. My knees hit the floor, like life had been lifted from my body.

My brother is dead. I was the luckiest sister in the whole world to have Marcus as my brother, even though it was only for 19 years.

It was a clear evening, the roads where dry and there was hardly any traffic. When the emergency personal arrived on the scene the stranger was stumbling among the mangled vehicles, drunk. My brother’s side of the car took the brunt of the impact. I am still having nightmares visualizing his limp dead body locked in the twisted metal. Both air bags deployed. They were also wearing seat belts. It took rescue crews over an hour to get just my brother’s friend from the car.

Unfortunately, we have all heard stories like this one, but you don’t ever hear someone at a party make the comment, “Hey I’ am not going to drink and drive tonight because I might kill someone.”

The only thing you ever hear people say is that they don’t want to get a DUI. Maybe people just like to focus on the optimistic side of this horrible choice, thinking to themselves as they are reading this, “Hey that would never happen to me.”

My request to you is for you to re-read this letter and put your family member’s names in the blanks (on both sides of the accident). Make a choice to understand that this does happen. Make a choice to think about your choices.

Maybe if this stranger had thought about his choice I would have never have had to make the choice of where to bury my brother, or what coffin he should have, or of what clothes he should be buried in, or of pall bearers, the choice of what to do with his unused Christmas presents.

The choice that I didn’t get to make was growing old with my best friend. Marcus I miss you.

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