Patrick Sawyer, Beloved

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Sentencing

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Yesterday was Shane McGee’s sentencing.  I have been silent (on this blog) on my opinions about my husband’s killer, but my conscience and soul have been grappling with the issue since the moment I learned Patrick was hit.

I have a lot I want to write about on this issue, because I feel it’s important not only for me to process it all personally–I also want our community that has lost Patrick Sawyer to process through this loss with me.

This past week has been extremely powerful for me and my family going through a restorative justice process.  As I collect my thoughts and words to share with you my opinions in a subsequent post, please give me your sincere thoughts on this justice issue.

There are several articles about the sentencing in the media.  The online versions have several comments about the sentencing.  Many people are understandably angry at the seeming light sentence Shane received from Judge Chamblee.

Here are links to the articles, videos, and comments:

WNDU Video and Article by Ryan Famuliner (Click on the video camera icon to view the video)

South Bend Tribune Article by Pablo Ros

WSBT Article

Thank you,

Nancy

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9 Responses to “Sentencing”

  1. Pam Lawrence Says:

    Nancy,

    I long to have the compassion that you are blessed with.

    I have read the comments and it is pretty clear that the community wanted a harsher sentence. I feel that 2 years is pretty light, maybe a few more years would deter another drunk driver…maybe not.

    Harboring hate will not change this tragic situation. Your ability to look past the hate and focus on the future is remarkable.

    I think you are setting an incredible example for your children that mirrors what your husband stood for.

    God bless you and your family

  2. John Andrews Says:

    Due to the fact it was a hit and run, the sentence should have been harsher with NO god time to reduce the sentence.

    Godspeed to the family of Patrick!!!

  3. e.borg Says:

    While part of me would have wanted to see a much longer sentence, it's tough to see a young adult waste away in prison for what may have been a single horribly stupid decision of driving drunk. Two years is a light sentence. But the penalties should not end with only Mr. McGee.

    Drunk driving, and its potentially tragic consequences, is still not taken seriously enough by the public at large. I think that it's because those who drink and drive regularly, or know people who do so, think that they will escape detection or keep getting away with it. The press needs to do a better job of publicizing the consequences of idiots like Mr. McGee. It should be common knowledge to all that drunk driving resulting in an injury of death is something that you don't ever want to commit.

    Plus, there need to be penalties that are assessed on more than just the person behind the wheel. This is where the deterrent is. People who allow others to drink at their residence and then allow them to drive drunk need to be scared into not ever allowing that to happen. They need to know that they WILL be considered an accessory to drunk driving.

    I think that the person responsible for holding the party where Mr. McGee was drinking needs to be held accountable – he/she should be sued and assessed a painful financial penalty. Mr. McGee's estate should be sued as well with the proceeds going to the Sawyer family. Mr. McGee's car should have been confiscated and auctioned off apart from all of this – meaning that it should have been done already. Mr. McGee needs to know that what he did landed him in prison, his property is gone – and unfortunately, sometimes the perpetrator's family will suffer financially because of it. Mr. McGee needs to also know, while he is in prison, his friends that allowed him to drive home drunk will suffer financially as well.

    Only when the perpetrators and enablers of drunk driving see how wide the penalty net can be cast (through articles /press coverage) will the community of drunk drivers and party-goers take drunk driving seriously.

  4. John Andrews Says:

    I agree 100%

    **********************Author: e.borg

    Comment:

    While part of me would have wanted to see a much longer sentence, it's tough to see a young adult waste away in prison for what may have been a single horribly stupid decision of driving drunk. Two years is a light sentence. But the penalties should not end with only Mr. McGee.

    Drunk driving, and its potentially tragic consequences, is still not taken seriously enough by the public at large. I think that it's because those who drink and drive regularly, or know people who do so, think that they will escape detection or keep getting away with it. The press needs to do a better job of publicizing the consequences of idiots like Mr. McGee. It should be common knowledge to all that drunk driving resulting in an injury of death is something that you don't ever want to commit.

    Plus, there need to be penalities that are assessed on more than just the person behind the wheel. This is where the deterrent is. People who allow others to drink at their residence and then allow them to drive drunk need to be scared into not ever allowing that to happen. They need to know that they WILL be considered an accessory to drunk driving.

    I think that the person responsible for holding the party where Mr. McGee was drinking needs to be held accountable – he/she should be sued and assessed a painful financial penalty. Mr. McGee's estate should be sued as well with the proceeds going to the Sawyer family. Mr. McGee's car should have been confiscated and auctioned off apart from all of this – meaning that it should have been done already. Mr. McGee needs to know that what he did landed him in prison, his property is gone – and unfortunately, sometimes the perpetrator's family will suffer financially because of it. Mr. McGee needs to also know, while he is in prison, his friends that allowed him to drive home drunk will suffer financially as well.

    Only when the perpetrators and enablers of drunk driving see how wide the penalty net can be cast (through articles /press coverage) will the community of drunk drivers and party-goers take drunk driving seriously.**************************************

  5. bruce Says:

    very difficult make judgment. each of us is ultimately responsible for our own actions. not a bartender, not fellow party goers, but you when you pick up a container of alcohol. when you do, you are responsible for what happens.

    i am astounded by the strength and emotional stability of Nancy. a young man of 21 will carry his mistake for the rest of his life.. no sentencing could be harsher than that, nor bring Patrick back. Did Shane get off easy? light? maybe. would cutting off an arm make it more appropriate? would putting him behind bars for 20 years?

    We've all made mistakes, we ask for forgiveness, we try to do better and hope that we can make it better. Nancy and her family paid the ultimate price, yet i read she says the sentencing was fair. That is strength, that is belief in action, where many just talk. i am in awe of her and family.

    who are we to say any more than that sentencing? at 21 i would hope Shanes' community service 'imposed' on him, is a trifle compared to how he will live the rest of his life. in every situation where there is drinking or a party going on. He will have the opportunity to have an impact on those people, for the rest of his life. Don't waste it Shane…. make good this mistake, and thank your Spiritual belief for the chance to.

    i pray we can all learn from Shane's mistake.

  6. Ellyn Stecker Says:

    I am impressed with the grace shown by you and your family. It is always a risk, ie, how to act justly when there is a terrible tragedy.

    I think you are setting a fine example for all of us and I hope that your action inspires more of us in this country to look to justice, not revenge, in the face of tragedy.

    No matter how Mr. Shane acts in the future, and we hope that this mistake will help him to change for the better, you have acted with grace and courage. I will remember this for a long time.

    Thank you. Ellyn Stecker South Bend IN

  7. Andy Fena Says:

    This is a hard post for me to write, but I don't think there is a good way for me to remain silent on it. So here goes.

    I could have easily been the person who hit and killed Patrick Sawyer. As a student at Notre Dame, there were a number of times I drank and drove. Who knows, maybe I drove that same road at the same time of year at the same time of day. I don't really know for sure. The fact is that it happened and I did it. To that degree I took the same kind of risk that that Mr. McGee took while he was driving, I am guilty of the same crime. I probably have 100 friends or acquantances who did the same type of thing. I probably have 10 times that many who knows someone who drank and drove or continues to do so. I think it is a common thing, and I don't quite know hot to stop it either.

    I am glad I am not the one who killed Patrick Sawyer, and I am glad to say that I have changed my life since those days. I won't be drinking and driving again (God Willing).

    Here is another thought somewhat related: I have a very good friend, Leigh McMullen, who was just killed in a car crash on Monday, October 13, 2008 in Duluth, MN. Like Patrick, Leigh was an amazing person with a lot of life left to go. She left behind a grieving family. It is a terrible tragedy. The cause of death? A 16 year old girl was driving on a sleepy residential street, not speeding, not drinking, 5 PM. But she crossed the center line nonetheless. Quite likelly some attention issue was at play, but we don't know for sure. A low speed head on collision killed my friend because someone crossed the center line.

    After thinking how awful it is that my friend was hurt, my next thought was that I am glad I was not the driver of that other vehicle. Again, it easily could have been me. I sometimes drive inattentively. One of the most profound statements I have heard in the last number of years was at Leigh's funeral. The pastor said something to the effect that the entire incident is a reminder to us all of the "high cost of not paying attention." I am trying to apply this to all areas of my life, not just my driving.

    Yesterday I had a chance to talk to someone with a high school student the same age as that 16 year old girl. The girl did not go to school following the accident, and there were rumors that she was suicidal. I can only imagine what she is going through. My hope and prayer for her is that she forgives herself and lives a beautiful and productive life. I think that is what my friend Leigh would want for her.

    I can't stand in judgement of Mr. McGee for what he did. I did the same thing, only in my case, no one ever got hurt or dead. I can't stand in judgement of that 16 year old girl either. That too could have been me. I think they are both punished enough if that is what they are supposed to be. They will both be faced with letting this tragedy put them down and out forever, or somehow making them stronger, better, more meaningful and even rich somehow. Who knows how God will work through this one? Who knows how many lives they will touch in a positive way, who they will prevent from doing the same, or who they will bring closer together and not even know?

    I never met Patrick Sawyer. I am an old out of touch friend of Nancy's. I have thought a lot about his death though, and of his family left behind. My thought now is "What would Patrick want for the 21 year old Mr. McGee?" Would he want him to be in jail forever or to be forever tormented by his mistake? Somehow that is not the Patrick Sawyer I have come to know. So what would he want, and what can we do to carry that through?

  8. Paul_Jenny Says:

    Hi Nancy,

    I do not agree with the light sentence. I DO think Mcgee got off light and easy. I have some strong feelings and I will try to soften my words.

    I feel that no matter how sorry Mcgee appears, how “wonderful” he WAS, or how much he claims he will do something positive with his life, he does not deserve the light sentence. Why? Because he left Pat to die in the street. That was a conscious choice; scared or not, it was a conscious choice. Horrible mistake? You bet it was a horrible mistake. I would agree with the light sentence had he stopped and helped Pat.
    After all, it is one thing to make a “mistake” and hit someone while driving drunk; it is quite another to “hit and run”. Admitting to your mistake the next day is way too little and entirely too late. Hitting Pat was a mistake and an accident. His leaving Pat was not an accident. It was a choice deliberately made.
    “Chop off his arm”, bit extreme example. “Twenty years”; yes, why not? It would make him the same age as Pat when he was taken from this world. Wasted youth? What about Pat’s life? That was wasted. Is Mcgee’s life any more sacred than Pat’s? Not by any standards. I did not want revenge. I wanted justice. A fair sentence to match the crime. The crime was not only killing Pat, it was failing to come to the aid of a fellow human being. It was the very least he could have done after running him over. He upped the ante when he left Pat to die in the street.

    I know part of my feelings are out of anger that I still harbor for Pat’s death. I do believe what I wrote though. My lack of diplomacy is from the anger. My ideas are from my thoughts on fairness and justice. I do not hate Mcgee. I actually feel sorry for him. He screwed up his life pretty bad. However, I do feel he failed as a human being that morning. He failed Pat. He failed himself. He failed everyone. I think that his crime deserved a heavier sentence.

    I admire your strength and willingness to forgive. Perhaps once I am able to let go of my anger, I too shall have forgiveness. For now all I have is anger. I will not hold it forever. I will strive to reach inner peace. I will carry Pat’s and my friendship in my heart. Pat and I have high standards. We not only hold others to them, but ourselves as well. That friendship has taught me a great deal about myself and about how I will conduct myself through out the rest of my life. High standards and equal treatment.

    I have but one request for Mr Mcgee…learn from your mistake and become a better person. I hope that you will become an advocate for responsible drinking and driving. I do not hate you. I hate that Pat was killed. You have an opportunity to help others in the future. Do not let yourself and all those who obviously care for you down.

    Peace

  9. Susan Says:

    Nancy, I was so moved by your talk this morning at First Unitarian Church. I have no comment as to whether sentencing was too light or not. There is no equality, no justice, no matter what the sentence, so how can I judge it?

    You spoke to us with grace, dignity and true courage, pulling no punches, no softening of your grief. When you spoke of the realization that there would be another dawn giving you comfort, I felt a certain peace coming over me regarding my anger and sadness at my friend's illness. Always, there will be another dawn, another spring, another summer, another fall, another winter, whether we are here or not. It is that turning wheel that anchors us, that gives a certain measure of confidence that the world, harsh as it may be, is okay.

    Peace to you and your children, and again, thanks for talking to us.

    Susan