By Deputy Rick Heinrich
Enforcing drunk driving? Enforcing underage drinking? Does it matter...? It does matter...
One cloudy fall afternoon, "Casey" had a few drinks. Casey was in Salina, but lived in Manhattan. Casey decided to drive home to Manhattan late that afternoon. Shortly after leaving Salina, he was stopped by a deputy for a seemingly minor and ordinary traffic stop. The deputy discovered that Casey was DUI and arrested him.
While Casey was being taken to jail, he complained to the deputy that he wasn't feeling too well. In a matter of 30 seconds, Casey had passed out, urinated all over himself, and remained unconscious. When Casey woke up, he was in the hospital and was in total confusion and complete disorientation. After Casey learned what happened, he realized that he would have wrecked if he would have still been driving, and who knows what might have happened if he would have passed out while driving.
Does it matter? It now does matter to Casey; he's still alive, uninjured and well.
On another summer afternoon, a high ranking local military official was headed home, ready to start his weekend off from work. As "Alex" was riding his motorcycle home, a car ran a stop sign right in front of him and there was no way to avoid the accident. After Alex's motorcycle crashed into the car that crossed his path, the driver of the car sped off, leaving Alex lying on the road, seriously injured. There were several witnesses to the crash, and ...it mattered to them... they quickly called 911 and reported the accident and the car that sped off. As emergency crews were arriving to the crash scene and treating Alex, the driver of the car was found, still fleeing the scene. After the driver of the car was stopped, he was found to be DUI.
Does it matter? It mattered to several witnesses who helped in this accident. It also mattered to Alex, and he fully recovered from his injuries, knowing and appreciating that justice had been served to the drunk that caused him to crash.
In another event, "Chris" was a bright athletic high school student, and early in the school year, he was trying to fit in with a certain "prestigious" group at school. To fit in, Chris went to a pasture party where the "in" crowd was drinking beer late one weekend night. Chris shouldn't have been drinking...he was well underage. Chris' driver also shouldn't have been drinking, he was also underage...and he planned on driving. Not very far from where the pasture party had been at, Chris' driver crashed. In a dark country ditch, Chris died that night in the passenger seat of his friend's vehicle.
Does it matter? It mattered to his family...words can't even describe it. It apparently also mattered to the hundreds of kids who participated in his funeral and memorials.
Does it matter? Yes, it does matter. Please let it matter to you before it has to matter to someone else...
Deputy Rick Heinrich is with the Saline County’s Sheriff’s Office