A chapter was closed Thursday – nearly eight months to the day after George was killed in his cycling accident – when the District Attorney called my Dad and sister-in-law to announce that the driver of the car accepted a plea bargain. She will plead guilty and will

Kaufer kids celebrating Christmas in the early 1900s
Kaufer kids celebrating Christmas in the early 1900s

participate in a 30 day alternative work program (in lieu of jail time served). She must also perform 200 community hours, serve 3 years probation and pay restitution fees. I’m still waiting to see all of the final details of the sentencing but at this point its just a formality. There will be no trial nor any final/formal sentencing date when we would see the driver – and she would have to face the family whose lives she forever changed on May 5, 2015.

Receiving this news generated mixed emotions for me. On one hand I’m relieved that this part is resolved and there won’t be the need for a trial – I know that reliving the accident in that manner would have been incredibly painful for all of us. I’m also glad that there is some form of punishment and accountability tied to the accident. However there is also a part of me that is a bit disappointed that she won’t serve any time in jail. I know it may sound vindictive on my part but that was a part of justice I was hoping would be served. And while this may also not be a reasonable expectation, I was (and am still) hoping that the driver provides some sort of personal apology and/or message to our family. I have no idea if she truly accepts her guilt in taking the life of a man who was a beloved father, husband, brother, son and friend to so many. I think it would help all of us that much more if we heard her words personally. But again, I have no idea if that’s realistic and am not holding out hope that it’ll happen.
What struck me most about receiving the news of this sentence was how it boiled the painful memories and feelings of that night and event back up to the surface for me. There isn’t a day that passes when I don’t think of George and the accident in one way or another but the sharp pain of the loss has gradually dulled over time as life has gone on for all of us. You learn to get used to the loss of someone in your life, even as you miss their presence. But the sentencing is directly tied to the accident itself – and is a reminder of the event that took away a life and brought the loss in the first place.
But what is done is done and now we can all move forward with the rest of our lives. This woman will have to live with the knowledge that her reckless driving killed an innocent cyclist. And she will have to pay some form of debt to society. I’m at peace with it and I think most of my family is as well. 2015 was a year of incredible loss – it truly boggles my mind when I think about how many people I knew lost their lives during the year. It absolutely provided me with perspective about how we really have no idea which day will be our last on earth. So I continue to do my best to appreciate each day I have and am grateful that I’m able to share this time with people I love, respect and treasure. It can (and probably will) end all-too-soon.

One Response

  1. very poignantly said. I have found the path is a long, hard continuous one after you lose a sibling, but each day you move forward just a little. Each of us have our own ‘baggage’ but know that so many of us are here to help you with that baggage if you need it. Blessing to you and the whole family.

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