Dawn Voss-Al-Shwayat

(As read in court by Maureen Voss, Dawn's mother)

June 17, 2008 is a day I will never forget. I can say with complete honesty that it was the absolute worst day of my life. That day had dawned so beautifully, but ended so tragically.

That day, I was supposed to drive to my daughter Dawn and her husband Hatem's house in Darien, Illinois. But just as I was getting ready to leave, my cell phone rang. It was my son-in-law's brother. He wanted to know if I was still coming to Hatem and Dawn's place. I told him yes and that I was getting ready to leave now. Then he told me that Hatem had been in an accident, and then he hung up. There is no way to explain the feeling I had, since I had spoken with Dawn only a couple hours earlier and I knew that she had been in the car with Hatem when she called me. I called him right back and although he answered on the first ring, he did not speak. Long seconds later a female voice came on the phone. I believe she identified herself as the emergency room nurse, and she explained that Hatem was in an accident and in critical condition.

I asked about my daughter, Dawn, and was told they didn't know where she was. Then she asked if I would be coming to the hospital. I told her yes. I asked what hospital it was and asked for directions from Dixon, Illinois. She then asked if I had someone who could come with me or drive me. Somewhat frozen now, I said no. I was driving in and I would see her in a couple hours. I hung up and immediately called Dawn's phone. But all I got was her voice mail. I left a message, grabbed my purse and keys and left the house.

In the car, I called my youngest daughter Shannon and explained what I knew. She called the hospital and got the same information I did. She then called my daughter-in-law who called my son and they all called and got the same results, with no information about Dawn. When Shannon called me back, she asked me to drive to her house so we could ride together. I agreed and we did.

Just inside the hospital was a very cheery little blond clerk. I specifically asked for Dawn and Hatem Al-Shwayat and was told they were waiting for us down the hall to our right.

I can't begin to explain the relief that rolled off. I thought to myself they found her; she is here, Dawn is alright. And then a woman's voice was saying they are very sorry but Dawn didn't make it, and I was led to my son-in-law's bedside.

Later we had learned the grizzly details of the crash.

Dawn was a bright, warm, caring, wonderful human being who in her own unique way found a way to make a difference. She was loyal and supportive to her friends. She was not afraid of life or its challenges and met them straight on. She worked hard, collected exotic fish, enjoyed painting and shopping. She was hooked on American Idol. She loved to cook and bake. She had plans, hopes and dreams.

Dawn was a daughter, a sister, a wife, an aunt and a friend. If this sounds like she was perfect, she wasn't and she would be the first to tell you so. But she was perfect for us and I was the lucky mom she was born to.

Now she is gone, along with all her hopes and dreams and plans. My grandchildren Joshua and Mikayla only 5 and 2 at the time of Dawn's death were too young to have lasting memories of their aunt. They will never know how terrific she was or how much she loved them or how proud she was of them. I'll never be able to visit her, go shopping with her, bake holiday cookies with her, or see her smile or hear her voice again, except in my memories. No longer will there be endless conversations on the phone. Dawn cannot do any of those things with us now because she is dead - Dead at the hands and actions of Mr. Pas.

I lost a wonderful daughter. My son Ryan and my daughter Shannon lost a loving sister and a friend. Hatem lost his wife. And all because Mr. Pas made the reckless decision to get drunk and drive. I am so angry, frustrated and hurt. My Dawn's life is over when it should be blossoming. Parents aren't supposed to bury their children.

I keep saying to myself I just want to turn back time. But we only get one shot at this life and time is not reversible.

Thank you Your Honor, for listening to this statement.

Maureen Voss

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