DUI: Destroying Lives - Part Two

By: Amy Bingham
By: Amy Bingham

The families of Jimmy and Shaleen Johnson as well as Cornelius Martin and Brooks Mitchell are just some of the people in our viewing area dealing with losses allegedly caused by impaired drivers. These families will soon be forced to relive the tragedies when the suspects go on trial.

A Warren County woman suffered an unimaginable loss last December when not one, but two of her sons---her only children---died in separate car crashes on the same night.

A toxicology report later confirmed both Rory and Cory McDowell had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in their system at the time of the crashes. Now their mother is determined to tell anyone who will listen to make wise choices, because if you don’t, there are lots of people who suffer the consequences.

“Everywhere I go people say, ‘You’re the mother? YOU’RE the mother?’ Then they say ‘Oh, we are sooo sorry,’” mother of Rory and Cory, Rose McDowell says.

“He always gave me the biggest hugs, he would just take his arms and wrap them around me... I miss those.” It’s been more than nine months since Rose McDowell heard a knock at her door that would change her life forever.

“When I seen the officers I knew something was wrong. He came in and said, ‘I have to tell you something... Please sit down,’ of course I wouldn’t sit down. He said, ‘ Rory’s had an accident, he’s dead.’

Minutes later, the McDowell nightmare got worse. More officers arrived to say Cory had also been killed in a separate crash.
“It didn’t seem real. No way that could happen. Always think it could happen to someone else, not yourself or anybody close to you,” Rose explains.

Rose says the next month was a blur. She later learned her sons had been at the Spillway Bar playing pool with their father the night of the wrecks. She says she’d give anything if they hadn’t chosen to drink and drive.

“The wrong decision could... my boys lost their life... and they were a very few miles from their destination.”

Since Rory and Cory’s deaths, Rose has been eager to send a message, one she hopes will spare other parents the pain she’s had to endure. “Your parents love you and would much rather have you home in bed, not yourself, as to not have you at all.”

She says we all have a responsibility to help others make the right choice. “If it means taking their car keys, do it! If it means pleading not to drive, do it,” Rose exclaims.

Rose says nothing has tested her faith like the loss of her children, but she says if her message saves one life it will be worth it.
“I realize God has a plan and can make good come out of this but I don’t understand it and I don’t like it.”

Rose McDowell chose not to comment on whether legal action will be taken against the Spillway Bar where her sons had been drinking that night.

Toxicology showed at the time of his death Cory McDowell had a level of .253, three times over the limit, and Rory’s was .165, twice the legal limit.

However bars have been held accountable in the drunk driving crashes in the past. In 2002, the parents of two teens killed in a DUI crash in Louisville, successfully sued the company that owns TGI Fridays for $21,000,000.

The bottom line is the stakes are high when you choose to drink and drive. Which begs the question, what is being done to keep impaired drivers off the road?


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