It was just 3 months ago when Tracy Handel was hit on the back of a motorcycle at 26th Street and Grange Avenue, dragged for blocks down the street and later died of her injuries. While the markings on the street and tribute on the corner might be gone now, for some, the memories are still fresh.
What's left now is looking at the man responsible: Darren Lee Boomgarden, 41.
"My thoughts on him haven't changed since the moment the police officer told me what happened in the ER," Tammy Handel said.
Tammy Handel lost her sister Tracy that night. She says distracted driving of any kind is a sad reality. As hard as it is for her to do, she's not judging him.
"I flashed back to the times I had been behind the wheel, irresponsibly and should not have been driving. My first thought was 'I can't judge him, I've done it too.' it's by the grace of God I didn't get pulled over, or get a DUI or kill someone," Tammy Handel said.
For time to be served, Sean Burns, who was driving the motorcycle with Tracy, admits he's OK with a minimum sentence for Boomgarden.
"I don't feel he's ever going to drink and drive again. He seems sincerely apologetic, remorseful. There's nothing we can do to correct what happened. No jail sentence will bring Tracy back. The only thing is to keep going forward from here," Sean Burns said.
Tammy only prays now that everyone involved will make the best of it.
"As hard as it is to lose Tracy and not have her here for the rest of our lives, we almost have an easier time of it than what he is going through. I would not want to trade places with him for anything in the world but I do not judge him," Handel said.
The message is out there, she says, but fears for the crop of repeat offenders, like Boomgarden, and wants to find a way to make the laws more strict to keep this from happening.
"Drink, be an alcoholic and do what you want to. Just don't get behind the wheel. You are literally making choices and decisions that will impact the lives of every single person your path crosses. In this case, Darren's path crossed Sean and Tracy's," she said.
The two families have a no-contact agreement for now. Handel looks forward to talking with Boomgarden one day.
Family and friends of Sean Burns are setting up a benefit for him and his medical costs.
It's called the "Sean Burns Benefit".
WHEN: Saturday November 10 at 1:00 p.m.
WHERE: The Ridgecrest Baptist Church (1034 N. Spring Ave, Sioux Falls)
They'll have homemade Chili and Frybread at $10/plate. They'll raffle many items including a grand prize of a professional custom paint job of choice.
For more information: join the "Friends of Sean Burns" Facebook group.
Tuesday, December 3 2013 10:48 PM EST2013-12-04 03:48:06 GMT
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