Jenni Lynn Anderson

The Hole In Your Heart

On October 17, 1997 our daughter, Jenni, who was 16 years old, was one of the three Waubonsie Valley High School students killed by a drunk driver. This was our day in infamy.

Jenni was so excited about Waubonsie Valley's Homecoming, which was the weekend of October 17-18. She was caught up in the festivities and as a representative of the Student Council, excited about every aspect of the Homecoming Week Festivities. We agonized over our decision to let her participate in the Waubonsie tradition of TP'ing (toilet papering) the houses "hiding" the other classes' floats. It wasn't the TP'ing itself that caused us concern. It was the time of night. We didn't like the fact that the girls were planning on playing the prank so late in the night. Although reluctantly, we eventually agreed to let her go because we knew she was responsible and could be trusted.

Jenni and the other girls left our house at 3:00 am. Two of the five girls were dropped off at their home. Jenni, Alli and Jennifer were on their way to Waubonsie to meet up with the other kids who were out TP'ing other homes. At approximately 4:05 am, a drunken driver, doing 75 mph, ran a red light and broadsided the girls, killing all three, instantly. This person's blood alcohol was more than twice the legal limit. By his actions, he has changed our lives forever.

That Saturday night, Jenni was to attend her first Homecoming dance. There was an aura of excitement around the house that came to a crashing halt on October 17th. Instead of seeing her off to her first big dance, the young man who was to be her date rang our doorbell that Saturday night - not to pick up Jenni, but rather to console us. He was dressed in his new suit and a boutonniere was pinned on his lapel. A final farewell gesture to the lovely girl who was to be his Homecoming date occurred at Jenni's wake. He walked up to her casket and placed her corsage and dance ticket beside her.

Unless you have lost a child, you can't begin to understand the knot in your stomach, the hole in your heart and the mind-altering feelings. Nothing prepares you for it. It is not natural to bury your child. With Jenni's death, we were given a life sentence without her. The drunken driver was given 13 years, equating to 6 1/2 years in prison for his irresponsible act.

We thank AAIM for their support,
Pam & Shelly Anderson

*Addendum: The offender served 4 years and 2 months, only 1/3 of the original sentence for killing the three girls and his passenger who was a mother of three children.

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