Nick Adenhart is dead. Nick Adenhart was 22 years old, fully four years younger than myself. Nick Adenhart was killed by a driver with a suspended license because of a drunken driving incident who tried to run away on foot after killing someone with his two-ton missile.
I know a little something about drivers with suspended licenses behaving badly behind the wheel. My dad was the victim of one in 1990. It was then, 18 years ago, that he was sitting at a red light and a man with a suspended license for a drunken driving conviction came barreling over the hill leading to the stop light at 50 MPH and proceeded to ram my dad's Honda subcompact. He, too, fled the scene like a coward. He also had no insurance.
My dad's back was screwed up. He had a herniated disc that degenerated over time and turned into another herniated, then degenerated, disc. The payment for his troubles? $17,000. If our insurance company had been facing another insurance company, the number would have been more like $100,000. The latter number is approximately what his back injury has cost over 18 years of missed regular work days, overtime that he cannot work because of his injury and all of the medical treatment associated with the problem. In fact, now that I think about it, his back injury has probably cost closer to $175,000. He had made between $60K-$80K per year before he was injured and in the 18 years since he has topped out one year at $55K. Other years have been as lean as $36K because of missed work. The problems really multiply when you have to invoke your "uninsured motorist" clause of your insurance policy (which you have to add to a standard policy) because, at that point, your insurance company and its lawyers are no longer advocating for you... they are advocating for themselves which means minimizing your injuries, lowballing the worth of your totaled car, etc. If this ever happens to you, I advise getting an attorney that is recommended by someone that would know. We got an attorney that was not worth the money he was paid. All of this caused by someone that could not obey the suspension of their license.
I, too, was greeted by a driver with a suspended license though I was never informed what it had been suspended for. I was traveling with the right of way through an intersection that had stop signs on the cross streets. I saw a white blur out of the corner of my eye and reflexively punched the brakes. That white blur ended up being a Dodge Intrepid traveling at 45 MPH running its stop sign. If you have never been in a high speed car accident, it is difficult to wrap your mind around. The best description I can give is this: Imagine that you are traveling one second and the next second a bomb goes off in the cabin of your vehicle and you are suddenly the hood ornament of the vehicle across the intersection that obeyed the law and actually stopped. Let me take a moment to tell my readers something about seatbelts: they save lives and that's no bull. How do I know? The seatbelt I was wearing saved my life that night. At the impact, I was thrown out of my seat and partially over the center console and then the seatbelt caught and jerked me back into my seat. Without the seatbelt I would have been ejected from the passenger window. There is also the difference of vehicles. If I had been driving what Nick Adenhart was riding in I am fairly certain that I would be where he is going: a cemetery. Instead, I was in a 1990 Ford Ranger. Ford builds a truck that will take punishment. At the beginning of the summer the truck rolled over 200,000 miles on the same engine and at the end of the summer the left side of the engine was obliterated and the left side of the truck bed was bent in half. The people that built that truck saved my life. This encounter with an uninsured driver resulted in the agitation of my Chiari I decompression but, since it wasn't able to be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the crash caused further injury, we received $3,500 for the truck being totaled out and my pain & suffering. Wherever that driver is today, I don't wish him ill but I pray to God he never drives anything larger than a golf cart.
Now Nick Adenhart is dead. Every life is equally worthy, but Adenhart's will be more widely known because he was the top pitching prospect of the Anaheim Angels baseball organization. He was celebrating pitching six scoreless innings of ball last night when his life was violently wrenched from his body. We are left with the question of how to deal with people that drive even though our justice system has taken their license and, in the process, cause untold monetary damage as well as bodily injury and, sadly, death. Is it time to restructure our laws to thin out drug users from the ranks of prisoners and start including people that drive on suspended licenses or habitually drive under the influence? Is it time to get harsher with drivers that have suspended licenses?