Young woman speaks to youth group about dangers of drinking and driving

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – A young woman and her father spoke March 20 to the youth group at Columbiana United Methodist Church about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Katelyn Carr and her dad, Charles Carr, know first-hand the dangers of driving while intoxicated.

Back in July 2005, just a few weeks after she graduated high school, Katelyn Carr was on her way home from a party when she was involved in a two-vehicle accident that killed the driver of the other vehicle.

Now, Katelyn and Charles travel around the area speaking to as many groups as they can about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Katelyn graduated from a small high school in Daphne in the spring of 2005 and was preparing to enter college at Ole Miss. She was a good student and gifted athlete, having been a part of three state championship volleyball teams.

Charles Carr described his daughter back then as a “good kid, a church-going kid and a Christian girl” who attended church youth functions.

Katelyn never enrolled at Ole Miss. The day of July 20, 2005 changed everything.

After babysitting earlier in the day, Katelyn later that night attended a friend’s birthday party.

“There was music, probably 50 to 100 people down there and everybody was drinking, having a good time and dancing,” Katelyn said. “It got to be about midnight and I got ready to go home. I wanted to get in my own bed. I had stuff to do the next day.”

She got in the car to drive home.

“I wasn’t falling down, I was slurring my words and I wasn’t out of control,” Katelyn said. “I rolled down my windows, I got on my cell phone and I pulled out of the driveway onto a dark road that I was terribly unfamiliar with.”

She said she didn’t make it two miles down the road before she ran a stop sign and hit the other vehicle driven by William Alexander Crowe, who eventually died from his injuries.

“I woke up four days later at my house, and my parents had to tell me that I’d killed somebody,” Katelyn said.

If it can happen to her, it can happen to anybody, Katelyn said.

“I made good grades. I was an A-B student. I had people come to my school – the MADD organization and other organizations – come and talk and show pictures, and it broke my heart. You see family’s hurt and people crying, and you never want to be that person. All of the sudden, I was that person.”

After the accident, Katelyn spent three and a half year on house arrest until a youthful offender hearing Aug. 15, 2008. She said a judge sentenced her to six months in the county jail.

“That day was the best day I’d had in three and a half years,” Katelyn said, “because I got to stand up in a courtroom in front of Alex’s family, and I got to apologize. Alex’s mom stood up and she gave me a hug and she told me that this is what she wants.”

What she wanted, Katelyn said, was for her to speak to others and warn them about the dangers of drinking and driving.

“I don’t want you to have to deal with it,” said Katelyn, who is on track to graduate from Alabama this summer before enrolling in Cumberland Law School. “I don’t want you to have to carry that weight around every day.”