You can see from my shirt below that I walked in the Loudon County Walk Like Madd event for a young boy I sadly never had a chance to meet. First off I want to say hats off to the walkers for raising $7,000 for drunk driving awareness and education in our area.
Now to why events particularly like this touch me. I met Sullivan’s family in 2005 under grim circumstances when I was a reporter in SC. 5 year old Sullivan Spradley of Kershaw County had returned from church with his family on Father’s Day. He was on a bike ride with his dad in broad daylight when the horrible happened. A drunk driver, a man I later learned was a repeat DUI offender hit Sullivan. Sullivan died an hour after the accident.
It was one of those stories you didn’t want to cover. But as important as doing stories to honor the brave little boy’s memory were the series of stories that followed that shed light on loopholes in SC law that allowed repeat offenders, people like the man who killed Sullivan back on the road.
Through this time I became friends with the family. Visiting his kind parents Tim and Tonya at their home. I also covered their days in court… reporting on the conviction of Donald Brown a man I watched receive his sentence for 13 years in jail.
It’s been 5 years and I still get Christmas cards from the Spradley’s. As a journalist there are stories and people you will never forget. The Spradley’s are one of those stories. I don’t live there anymore, but I feel I can reach out from anywhere on this serious issue… even if it’s just by doing 12.5 laps around a high school track.
To the Spradley’s and all families who have lost loved ones to this senseless crime. It’s okay to stay mad. From getting more education in our schools to getting ignition interlock systems passed in more states the fight is far from over. Keep walking, keep talking and stay hopeful for that day that drunk driving doesn’t take anymore innocent lives.
Howard Katz (left) lost his son Adam in 2009 to a drunk driver
Angie and Kathy Corby aka Mommy Bootcamp
Jen Davis, Marian Lozano and Susan Cleveland