The accident happened in August 2020. This was such a bad, bad time. Russell was ping ponging from place to place. His last job had ended in March 2020. Working conditions had become unbearable. The pandemic also was in full bloom and people were hesitant to venture out. Russell had become rather stir crazy and even his reading and writing were not enough to occupy his random thoughts.
He left on Friday afternoon and went to spend time with a friend, if you could call him that. Mark, the so-called friend, was also dealing with his own challenges. Russell and Mark were like mixing fire and gasoline. Even during their more peaceful moments, they were both edgy. Russell and Mark spent the weekend going from party to party - each one more booze filled than the other. The alcohol consumption accelerated their arguments. The final fuse was lit when Mark began to berate Russell about his advantaged upbringing - "You don't know what it is like to move constantly and never know where you will sleep. You don't know what it is like to wonder when the next punch will come. You don't know what it is like to fear for your safety. You are just pretending to be on hard times." Russell was not at his best and all the words sounded like criticism - something Russell could never let roll off his back. Russell and Mark were both sleep deprived and had barely eaten for days. Russell just could not let Mark's berating continue. He started swinging aimlessly until he made contact with Mark's jaw. That really made Mark angry, and he started swinging at Russell. The fight began in the den and moved out the front door. In the yard, Russell and Mark continued to fight. The fight was beginning to look more like a brawl - some punches making contact and others just in the wind. Only sheer exhaustion brought the fight to an end. Russell and Mark both collapsed in the dirt - no longer throwing punches but still throwing insulting words.
Russell decided to leave Mark's house. His rage filled his mind and his thinking was clouded. He was not in any shape to drive, but he was not thinking rationally. He started driving home. There was little traffic on the highway, but he still could not see well because of the two black eyes. He had never tried to drive when he was in such bad shape. He just wasn't thinking. Russell understood later that he had several near misses with other cars, but luckily, he did not hit them. He continued driving slowly and turned off on to a side street. Even in his distorted state, he thought he could drive the last several miles home. He did not see the man walking on the shoulder of the road. Russell looked away and then heard the thump. He did not see anything and continued to drive on. The thump was when he hit Mr. Drew, a pedestrian walking to the convenience store for his nightly bottle of beer. Mr. Drew was thrown in the ditch where several bystanders came to his aid. His injuries included facial breaks and a traumatic brain injury. After several days in the hospital, Mr. Drew was discharged and began his recovery.
Russell finished the drive home and was in a very distorted state. He talked with his family and said he had no memory of how he got home. He slept for two solid days and hardly moved at all. It was only on the third day, that he was awake. That third day, that was the day the police came to the door. Images had been on the news of the maroon-colored car that was in a recent hit and run. Someone reported seeing the car Russell was driving. The police saw the damage and asked about it. Russell did not have any memory of how it happened. The police took his statement and left.
Russell continued to have severe headaches and went to the emergency room, He was diagnosed with a concussion and told to rest. The police returned that day to serve Russell with papers and charges. The reality of his actions was beginning to sink in. A meeting with a lawyer, Ivan, was scheduled - one of many in the following two years. Ivan was very experienced in the court arena and assured Russell that even with the serious charges, he would not experience jail time.
Following the two-year period, due to repeated court delays and reschedules, Russell appeared for his first court date. The judge, A.H. Rad, was known as unpredictable and often made decisions that were counter to agreements that had been made. The first hearing was rather uneventful. Russell entered a guilty plea and the sentencing date was set for a month later. Russell continued to work with his therapist and counselor in addition to attending regular meetings with the probation officer and experiencing regular alcohol testing.
The sentencing date arrived. Ivan again assured Russell that jail time was not on the table - the agreement with the District Attorney, Mr. Drew (the injured party) and Russell's lawyer was still in place. The pre-sentencing report, letters of support and the victim's statement were all read in open court. Russell expressed his deep regret that he had driven and injured Mr. Drew. Mr. Drew expressed that some of his injuries were ones that he would continue to live with. Mr. Drew also said that he hoped Russell would never drive in an impaired state again. He told the judge that he did not feel that jail time was necessary. All the pieces were in place - until - Judge A.H. Rad sentenced Russell to thirty days active time in jail before the twenty four months probation began. Russell began the sentence that day. Shock was the feeling for Russell, his family, his attorney, the victim, and the District Attorney. Maybe thirty days does not sound long, but for Russell's family it was forever. Ivan, Russell's attorney tried to talk with the judge, but he would not budge. Russell was as calm as anyone could be as he was led out of the courtroom.
Russell is currently halfway through his sentence. He spends most of the time reading and writing. He is already planning to make amends and apologies to people he has wronged with words or actions - a former girlfriend, family members, and others. Russell has finally realized that he has to be accountable for his choices and actions. The thirty-day sentence was not anticipated but is the step forward to a better future. Russell's attitude has changed from - "That's not fair to how can I be a better person and live my life with quality and purpose?" He is wondering about the next steps - finish college, get a job, volunteer in the community, etc. Even though the thirty days in jail were unexpected, perhaps this time has provided the reflection opportunity to truly focus on what is next.