OFFICIALS: Serving a larger purpose

He won’t leave his house. The possibility of something terrible happening to him or his family haunts his every thought. His heart and mental well being were broken the day his daughter was taken from him. The night his daughter was taken from him by a drunk driving accident, he lost trust in the world around him. Barbie Little’s husband is agoraphobic because of the reckless drinking and driving of the person who hit her car and took her daughter’s life.

Barbie Little is a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and her daughter, a former Stagg student, suffered a gruesome death at the drunken hands of the father in the car that collided with hers.

Though Little has suffered immense emotional and mental turmoil, she uses that pain to level with those that are going through the same thing and to promote the message that prevention is far easier than dealing with the repercussions. She works with Every 15 Minutes to teach people at one of the most impressionable ages that drinking and driving is not only not worth it but could mean life or death for an unsuspecting party as well as severe consequences for the driver. As she says, “I may never have grandchildren, and may have lost my best friend but I have her story.”

Little does acknowledge that “everyone has the right to be represented,” and attorney Gilbert Somera is there to serve that purpose.

In Every 15 Minutes demonstrations, he represents the student that practiced such recklessness and disregard. To make the case, he brings up the perpetrator’s aspirations, accomplishments, and naivete. He humanizes those whom others may forget have a life as well, despite their irresponsible actions. This does not guarantee they do not go to prison, regardless of how touching their story is and how much potential they have.

It comes down to the decision of the judge, Richard Vlavianos, to determine whether the life of the perpetrator is meant to be spent behind bars or out in the same world in which they killed someone. He knows the tough decision well and while there are cases where he wishes he did not have to make a choice and change people’s lives so drastically, he can recall a time where “giving someone a break” hurt them more than serving time. A young woman had been in an accident where going home was more painful than having to be away. She spent every day reliving the fact that she was the reason her friend died, and everyone knew that. Instead of feeling any penance she felt more grief looking at the tear-streaked faces of friends and family.

These three people come together to spread awareness. Their Every 15 Minutes demonstrations make students think about the consequences they will face and how drastic a seemly small decision is. They make the people they touch feel the same frustrations they do.