However, after reading what Manuel Contreras-Galdean said at his sentencing today, I need just one more dose of writing therapy.
Those that have read here for a little while may remember me writing about the tragic death of sixteen year old Kelly Tracy. Kelly was a member of the Highland High School Marching Band who was killed by a drunk driver on November 15, 2008 at 6:30 in the morning while she was on her way to join her band mates as they prepared to march in the Gilbert Days Parade.
My daughter is in the Highland Band and Francy and I were volunteer band parents that day.
Trust me when I tell you that you don’t ever, EVER want to be in a room with 150 kids when they are told their friend has been killed. I don’t have the vocabulary or writing skills to express the sorrow and sadness we all felt that morning. The kids were utterly and completely devastated. Kelly was an incredibly gifted musician, a friend to all, and many are still struggling trying to cope with her senseless and tragic death. As unimaginable as it was for the kids that day, I suspect you can multiply that a thousand-fold and not even remotely approach how Kelly’s parents and family feel.
Today, 496 days after Kelly died, Contreras-Galdean was finally sentenced to 14 years in prison and 4 years of probation — the maximum allowed under terms of his plea agreement.
If he had stood in front of the judge, and in front of Kelly’s parents and simply said, “I screwed up. I made a horrible mistake and I’m so sorry for what I’ve done to you” then maybe I could have a little sympathy for this man.
Instead, according to the report from Emily Gersema with the Arizona Republic (who has done a remarkable job covering this story from Day 1), Contreras-Galdean doesn’t think he is a criminal, blames his attorney and says:
that he believed the crash was an unpreventable accident, that the light at Sossaman and Guadalupe roads in Mesa was yellow but turned red as he was heading left, that he wasn’t high on cocaine and wasn’t drunk but had suffered an undiagnosed head injury.
An unpreventable accident? Are you freaking kidding me? It’s 6:30 in the morning and you blow a 0.19 blood-alcohol content ”“ two and a half times the legal limit ”“ and you’re high on cocaine and you call this an “unpreventable accident”???
And you have the unmitigated gall to stand in a courtroom and say, "I was hoping today to remove this burden – this burden I’m carrying knowing I’m not the criminal the prosecution made me out to be”.
YOU are carrying a burden because you think you aren’t a criminal? What kind of burden do you think Kelly’s parents are carrying? How about Kelly’s brother Matt, who was driving that morning when your drunk, high on coke worthless ass slammed into them? How about all of Kelly’s friends and family that think about her all the time and wonder what kind of woman she would have become?
Your burden? Screw you Manuel Contreras-Galdean. It is WAY past time for you to man up to what you did. You’re a pathetic excuse for a human being and 14 years isn’t even close to what you deserved.
To top it all off, this wasn’t the first time you’ve been caught driving drunk. You were convicted of DUI in 2001 in Utah, and again in 2007 in Tempe. You are in this country illegally, you’ve been deported before, yet you crawl back over the border and continue to drink and drive and you killed an incredibly talented and gifted young lady who had her whole life ahead of her. You’ve been caught driving drunk three times. How many times did you drive drunk and not get caught?
You ask for leniency because you have aging grandparents, a wife in Mexico, and children. Well at least your children are alive. Maybe you should have thought about your grandparents, wife and kids BEFORE you crawled behind the wheel drunk and high (AGAIN) and killed someone.
You make excuses about your lawyer. You make excuse about some “undiagnosed head injury”. You say you weren’t drunk. Yet someone claiming to be part of your family came on this very blog and left a comment saying, “ALCOHOL WAS JUST AN ADDICTION HE WAS TRYING TO PUT OFF WITH HE WANTED TO QUITE BT WAS SOMETHING THAT HIS FRIENDS WOULD ALWAYS DO AND FRIENDS ARE SOMETIMES WHAT PUT YOU THROUGH THE WRONG PATH .IT WAS NOT MANUELS INTENTIION TO MAKE CRASH THAT ACCIDENT”.
But it’s not your fault. You aren’t a criminal. You had a bad lawyer. Your family member also blames your friends, they even blame KELLY for not wearing her seat belt, and they claim she would have made it if they’d taken her to the right hospital. I guess your family member is an emergency room surgeon now. (Both claims were later refuted by a commenter going by “A Friend of the Tracy’s”.)
Good grief. You blame everyone but yourself. A family member of yours blames everyone, INCLUDING THE VICTIM, but you.
YOU killed Kelly Tracy. YOU chose to drink and drive. YOU snorted cocaine. YOU killed Kelly.
The Tracy family has forgiven you. Their faith is amazing. Hopefully your sentencing will provide them some closure. It’s just a shame you can only blame everyone but yourself. Maybe someday in the next 14 years you’ll become man enough to admit what you did. Maybe.
But somehow, I doubt it.