KatieBurkey_3.jpg

What if this was your story - would change occur?

Whether you are a parent or not, I think everyone can understand the deep love a parent has for their children and the desire to keep them safe from harm.

Now imagine one day you are saying goodbye to your child, telling them you love them and to get home safely, all the while fully expecting to see your child the next day, just like any other day.

Now imagine you are driving and come across a horrible car wreck and the thought goes through your mind, could that be her? You put it out of your mind and just hope and pray your child made it through that stretch of road and is home safe and sound.

Then wonder how you would feel getting a call from the state patrol telling you that your daughter was in a serious car accident, she was taken to North Memorial Medical Center, and you needed to make sure all family got there immediately. Think of all the horrific thoughts that would go through your mind; is this real, what happened, how did it happen, how bad is it really? This is the most helpless feeling you could experience, paralyzing you to the ‘need to know’ but the complete fear of actually finding out. Then the horrific realization when you arrive at the hospital to find your beautiful, kind, charismatic, bright, happy, loving daughter that you just saw a couple hours ago, has been helplessly killed by a careless and distracted truck driver who had no thought for others on the road that day.

This was my reality on September 6, 2017 when a distracted driver took my amazing daughter’s life. This driver was speeding, his semi-truck side dumper was thousands of pounds overweight, and he carelessly slammed into the back of my daughter’s car after she was at a complete stop in rush hour traffic for over 5 seconds. this man made a choice to do something other than pay full attention to his driving, and that action cost my daughter her life. Further, it took away any hope of normality for my life and the rest of my family’s lives forever.

My daughter, Katie Burkey, was just 22 years old and had her entire future ahead of her. Katie has just graduated from the University of Minnesota, she had just moved into her very own place and proudly adopted a rescue dog names Winnie. Katie deeply loved her family and friends and genuinely loved life. In Katie’s 22 years on this Earth she positively impacted so many people and had so much more to do and give. How could someone’s carelessness so easily take all of that away and what will be done about it? I didn’t realize how badly flawed, and in dire need of change, the laws were in relation to a driver taking another life by their own distraction… until it happened to us.

Driving a vehicle that has the capacity to kill another human being requires the simplest task… paying attention. Simply put, the lack of doing that by a driver took my precious Katie. It also took her ability to have a future and devastatingly changed out family dynamic forever.

What could possibly be more important when you’re driving a vehicle than to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you? All lives on the roads depend on it. Anything and everything else can wait until you are able to safely stop. It truly is a simple concept that we must ingrain into the thought process of all drivers. In addition, the consequences for not adhering to those principles must have suitable weight to encourage change. This is so far overdue. If something was done about this problem years ago there’s a chance Katie and many other helpless victims would be here today.

Until the public in general and lawmakers see this for the substantial problem that it is, my reality could easily be your reality tomorrow, next week, or next month.

I was lucky to have 22 wonderful years with the most amazing daughter and I was fortunate to be able to spend lots of time with her, but was cut far too short and for no good reason. Now there is an enormous hole in my heart that can never be fixed. I lost my daughter, my first born, and my best friend on September 6, 2017. A loss I didn’t think I will ever be adequately able to cope with. I went from seeing and talking to my beautiful daughter Katie every day, to now only being able to see and visit with her at her grave site every day. One thin I have learned throughout this agonizing ordeal is that this is an increasingly disturbing trend that desperately needs action.

My daughter and all of the other family’s tragic losses may just be sad stories to you, but it’s so important to understand that it can happen to you and your family. If we can start adequately addressing this avoidable epidemic, maybe fewer tragedies will occur. As a society, we need to easily be the next family affected.

Change needs to happen and it needs to start now. How many more innocent people need to be killed before the understanding of this epidemic is real?

Lawmakers, please, image it was your child, how would you feel, what would you do? I believe the answer to that question will drive the need for change.