June 15, 1985 - May 24, 2003
My daughter Caitlin was 17 years old and my youngest of two beautiful daughters. It was her senior year and we were planning her graduation party, which was to be held on June 1, 2003, the day after her graduation. Caitlin had everything to look forward to. She had her senior class boat trip on Lake Michigan, her graduation from high school, a 3 night cruise we were going to give her for her graduation gift, her upcoming 18th birthday, and her sister's upcoming wedding in which she would be maid of honor. Caitlin loved cappuccinos, shopping and anything pink. Her friends said she would come bouncing into school each morning with a cappuccino, a smile and not a hair out of place. She had quite the sense of humor and loved to make people laugh. She was always very cheerful and fun loving. Caitlin was full of life. That was all taken from her very suddenly and tragically when on Thursday, May 22, 2003, she was hit by a drunk driver.
Just 2 months earlier we had moved into a new home and Caitlin had farther to drive to school, but it was only for 2 months until she graduated. She had just quit her job at Applebees the night before the crash. She went to school that day, then stopped by her grandma's house in which I too was going after work. We both visited my mom for a while, then she went to the health club and said she was going to ask one of her friends to go to the mall to shop for an outfit for her senior boat trip the next day. She called me from the mall and told me she had found something to wear and couldn't wait to show me. Then she called at 9:30pm to say she was coming the long way to our new house, because it was the way that she knew. At 10:15, we tried her call phone and got the voice mail. We thought maybe her battery had run low or she was in a bad cell spot. My husband told me to go to bed and he would wait up for her. Sometime after midnight, he woke me and said she was not home yet and that he had tried to call her several times and kept getting the her voice mail. I jumped up from a sound sleep and immediately knew something was terribly wrong. I began to pace the floors and then called her older sister who is a student at SIU in Carbondale. I asked if she had heard from her sister at all since they talked every night. She said Caitlin had called her around 9:15pm and told her about her outfit. I told her sister something terrible has happened to her, I feel it. My husband called 2 county police departments and the police department of 2 towns she had traveled through and gave out her VIN# of her car. Within 15 minutes, we received a call from one of them saying she had been in a crash and that she was flown by helicopter to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. I was in total shock and thought this is a parents' worst nightmare. "Please someone just wake me up and tell me we are not going to the hospital in the middle of the night for one of our children." I then called her sister back and said we were on our way and to wait to hear back from me. We got to the hospital at 2:45am and waited to see a doctor. The Chaplain walked in and then the doctor. I then knew it had to be bad. She had both legs broken, both arms broken, ruptured spleen and several serious internal injuries. They had her in an induced coma to get the swelling down. She never regained consciousness. Caitlin died on Saturday, May 24, 2003. She was pronounced brain dead. Caitlin had been driving along Rt. 72 just outside of Gilberts and less than 100 yards from a curve up ahead in the road. As she was nearing the curve, a drunk driver from the opposite direction came around the curve and directly into her lane of traffic. She swerved her car to get off the road and he hit her on the driver's side. He had a blood alcohol level of .16. He suffered a broken leg and a partially broken arm. He had two previous DUI's and was driving on a suspended license. We are currently waiting for trial. This never should have happened. He should not been allowed to get behind the wheel of a vehicle and because he chose to do that, we will always suffer with the pain of the loss our daughter and sister. On the day we were to have her graduation party, we were having her wake. How so many things in life are taken for granted. We all think we have tomorrow, but realistically, all we really have is today.
A close friend put us in contact with AAIM. We had never heard of them, but in a very short time, we knew what they were all about. They have given us so much support through this most difficult time. It has been 3 months since the crash, and we are still trying to find a way to go on with life and deal with our loss. Our lives will never again be the same.
We donated Caitlin's organs and 3 people received successful transplants. Somehow, Caitlin has become a part of them and these 3 people now have a chance at life. Caitlin should have had the chance to live life, as she was just beginning. She will never be forgotten and she will live in our hearts forever.
May God Bless You Caitlin!
Diane (Mom) and Joel
Cassi (Caitlin's sister)