Left: Image of crash scene by Lori King/Toledo Blade
Those of you who plan to imbibe on New Year's Eve ought to read the Toledo Blade account of the drunk driver who killed five members of a Maryland family Sunday night. 24-year-old Michael P. Gagnon, of Adrian MI, drove the wrong way on I-280, smashing into a minivan.
Dead on the scene were Bethany Griffin, 36, Jordan Griffin, 10, Lacie Burkman, 7, Haley Burkman, 10, while Vadi Griffin, only six months old, was pronounced dead at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. Danny Griffin, 36, Sidney Griffin, 8, and Beu Burkman, 8, remain hospitalized.
In typical drunk-driver-accident-causing fashion, Michael Gagnon survived and was walking the scene around complaining of jaw pain after the crash. He is expected to be released from the hospital in the next day, at which point Gagnon will be charged with five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide. He will likely be facing punishment for first degree felonies under ORC 2903.06, which brings penalties up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine on each count. The penalties increase if Gagnon has prior alcohol- or drug-related offenses on his record.
Gagnon registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.254, which is over three times the legal limit of .08 in Ohio. Compounding Gagnon's stupidity, of course, was that the idiot decided to get liquored up at the Rodeo Bar in Oregon, OH, meaning that he had a 35-40 mile trip back to his home in Adrian, MI, if that was indeed his destination. News reports indicated that Gagnon's brother Samuel called the intoxicated driver minutes before the crash, only to be told by drunken schlep: "Sorry, bro."
"Sorry, bro"? Drunkenness aside, Gagnon is the epitome of the selfish drunk, who puts his own inebriated impulses in front of the lives of other motorists.
Gagnon leaves in his drunken wake the bodies of five innocent victims, with another three injured survivors. Countless other lives of the people who knew the victims will be affected by the tragedy, and every person with a conscience who reads about this horror will shudder at the utter senselessness of the asinine choices of Michael Gagnon.
Yet, if this tragedy manages to remain lodged in the head of a few dozen drunks this New Year's Eve, perhaps other fatal accidents will be averted. Maybe - just maybe - there can be a positive ripple effect from the incomprehensible, deadly idiocy of Michael Gagnon, and perhaps unknown future lives will be saved by inebriated persons who act in a responsible fashion and hand over their keys to a sober friend.