It has been another long, tiring, and stressful day. How about a few drinks to blow off some steam? At times, a good cold beer after a long day of flying is just what the doctor ordered. Or is it?
We should all know the consequences of a DWI: jail time, loss of a license, suspension or loss of a pilot’s license, loss of income, loss of your business, loss of life, and injury. A public defender for a DWI costs anywhere between $8,000.00 to $10,000.00! An average funeral costs $13,000.00-$15,000.00! Is that enough for you?
The reality of “let’s have a few drinks” struck our family on Saturday, January 22, 2022. Our world was forever changed by that harmless afternoon drink and a drive home. Our daughter, Ramsie Kate, had turned 18 years old just nine days before. That Saturday night, she worked her shift at the local seafood restaurant, and she was on her way to pick up her cousin for a sleepover. A mile from her destination, Ramsie was struck head-on by a drunk driver heading the wrong way down the highway. That single action of a total stranger, and his after-work drinks, shattered so many lives. We arrived at the hospital where Ramsie was already in surgery. There, we waited for five long, stressful, and heartbreaking hours. We were finally able to see our Ramsie in her ICU room, where she lay on life support. As a mother, there is nothing that prepares you to see one of your children in the condition she was left in. All I could manage to think was HOW and WHY?
On January 23, 2022, just ten days after her 18th birthday, we called in our family to say their final goodbyes. One by one, you watch your family walk into her room, all heartbroken and in shock. The priest arrives for the blessing of the sick. Finally, Louisiana Organ Procurement was called in. When Ramsie received her license, she made the decision to be a full organ donor. Our family was then dealt its final blow; the drunk driver who had a few drinks after work also took Ramsie’s last dying wishes from her. All we could donate were her beautiful blue eyes. He also stole her high school prom, her high school graduation, my grandchildren; I could go on and on of endless possibilities he stole from her, and he stole from us. He was drunk. He was driving. He was selfish. This was no accident; this was completely preventable. His choices took her from us.
We buried Ramsie 22 months ago, and the pain is something that never goes away. It does not get better; it is like living with a smothering blanket always draped across you. I continue to tell Ramsie’s story to just change one person’s mind about that happy hour and those few drinks after work and driving home. From this mother’s broken heart, PLEASE drink responsibly and ALWAYS have a driver. Your life, your career, your family, and other families are all at risk when you drink and drive.
Clay and Ali Vincent own Vincent Flying Service, Inc., located in Kaplan, LA. Clay served as the President of the Louisiana Agricultural Aviation Association from 2022-2024, and he is currently transitioning to the NAAA representative for LAAA. Clay and Ali have been married for 10 years and have three children, Riley (22), Eleanor (8), and Ramsie, who would have celebrated her 20th birthday on January 23, 2024. Clay and Ali enjoy all things family, flying, and traveling, and continue to look for the good in each and every day even after the tragic loss of their daughter, Ramsie. Life is different for them, but they believe this is still a life worth living. Hug your loved ones and tell them daily just how much you love them.