The Court Hearing; Update On Our Trip To Georgia

 braids and giraffe 011

Update on our trip to Georgia.  .  . First of all, thank you for your prayers and concern for us.

We left early for Georgia so as to be able to attend a worship service at the church in Augusta, Georgia, whose pastor met Jerry at the hospital when he first arrived in Georgia after the crash and was trying to find where Mary was. After they were able to find Mary, the pastor asked what they could do to help. Jerry asked him to make sure that Mary was never alone. So he arranged for their members to take turns being with Mary 24/7 in her hospital room–holding her hand, reading the Bible to her, singing and talking to her–since Jerry had to attend to so many things including visiting me at my hospital 2 hours away.

On Sunday morning, I was able to meet most of the people who spent time with Mary–giving/getting hugs and taking their picture. A couple of them mentioned how caring the nurses had been–speaking to Mary (who was unresponsive) when they were taking care of her, always telling her what they were going to do or where they were taking her. That brings a measure of comfort to this mother’s heart.

Also, the pastor’s wife shared how she had gone to the hospital that Sunday morning the day after the crash, before Jerry had arrived, because she couldn’t stand the thought of 13 year-old Mary being all alone. However, she was not able to see Mary then as she was still a Jane Doe (or Sierra Trauma according to some medical records) and could not be positively identified until Jerry arrived. I am so thankful that she cared enough to at least try.

After church, the pastor and his wife invited us to lunch and we were joined by one of the members who had sat with Mary–the last one to do so before Mary died.

Before we left, they prayed with us. We were reminded by the pastor that no matter the outcome of the hearing, we should not expect to feel satisfied. That is our ongoing experience: His peace that passes all understanding does not always mean that we will be happy with how things come out for the simple reason that NOTHING will bring AnnaLeah and Mary back to us in this life.

Next, Jerry was kind enough — despite the hard memories it brought to the surface for him — to drive me by the hospital where Mary spent her last days on this earth, to fill in that  empty spot for me which had no memories to hold onto.

We then left for Greensboro, Georgia, to spend the night at a bed & breakfast before attending the court hearing on Monday. It was a blessing to be in that place—a large Southern “mansion” which had been in the owner’s family for over 100 years. We were there all by ourselves and enjoyed the peace & quiet and not speaking of the next day much at all.

We were amazed the next morning when, as the owners were fixing our breakfast and setting the fancy table, we discovered that he had been a lawyer for 40 years and was very familiar with some of the horrific problems with truck crashes. He was concerned with what was expected as the outcome and shared our frustrations with what appears to be A BROKEN SYSTEM.

And that is what I would like to write further posts about in and will let you know when I do so–in case you are interested in learning more. We have many concerns and, while we do not want to let the frustrations rule our lives, we cannot ignore them. If we have become enlightened and do not act to seek change, then who will?

The actual court hearing was very hard. The DA gave an account of the crash–repeated by the Mongolian interpreter–and outlined the plea deal: 24 months probation with his CDL surrendered for that period, community service & attendance at a MADD victim impact class.

Then Jerry and I were given an opportunity to speak. I daresay that the Victim Impact Statement which he had written was probably the most difficult thing Jerry has ever had to read–about what we had lost and why we hoped that the driver would never have a CDL again and have the opportunity to take another life.

Victim Impact Statement

 When I then had a chance to speak, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to say until shortly before. I showed the truck driver Mary’s braids and said that that was all that I had left of her. I told him about how creative AnnaLeah was and showed him a giraffe she had made shortly before the crash and told him how she loved to write.

Then, I told him how we had found some things that the girls had written when we were going through their belongings. I shared with him–repeated by the interpreter–how AnnaLeah had written that,

“You will never be worthy of proclaiming Christ’s name,

But Christ’s name will always be worthy of proclaiming.”

Then, I told him how we found a letter that Mary had written to herself shortly before the crash that she planned on reading in ten years (2023). I told him how, in that letter, she said that she hoped that she still believed in God and that she better because He was the most important thing in the world. And I told him how she also said that she hoped that she would be living every day as if it were her last day.

Finally, I told him that I thought that the girls would want him to know that Jesus died for him.

After the hearing, we spent over two hours in a room with him as our civil lawyer questioned the truck driver to try and get some of the answers which we had, thus far, been unable to get through any investigation (and because his lawyer wanted him to Plead the Fifth until the criminal case was completed). Jerry commented later how rough it was to be across the table from him.

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