by Brittany Geragotelis
Last week I got a phone call from my mom with some bad news. A boy I used to know back in high school was killed in a head-on collision after being thrown from the vehicle he was a passenger in. Francis Malloy (Fran to the rest of us) and I used to both take ballet at my mom's dance studio (The Ballet Slipper) in Oak Harbor, WA, growing up. He was one of those really happy guys...totally secure with who he was. I mean, not many guys would have the guts to do ballet and actually tell people about it. Point is, he was a very sweet kid. The kind of guy you hope your younger sister would date one day.
That's why it was sad for me to hear that years later, Fran found himself struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. Not too surprising (given that plenty of good kids with the potential to make a positive impact in the world fall prey to the diseases of alcoholism and drug addiction), but still very sad. Apparently Fran had been trying to get sober and had even recently gotten out of rehab, only to find himself in the car that ended up claiming the lives of three men, including his own.
According to police reports, Fran was in the backseat of a car being driven by a young woman when she went to take off her sweater and asked another girl to take hold of the wheel. The car began to veer off and the driver panicked and over-corrected, sending the them into oncoming traffic and hitting another car head-on. Fran, his friend who was seated next to him as well as the driver of the other car were all killed. To add to the devastation, the man who was driving the other car, swerved at the last minute in order to save his pregnant wife from injury. An investigation into the accident found heroin, cocaine, marijuana, syringes and a gun in the car and the female driver was discovered to be under the influence at the time of the collision.
My heart goes out to all the families, especially the young mom-to-be who should win a medal for her strength in the face of adversity (Check out an interview with her on "The Today Show" below). But if there's anything people should take away from this situation, it's that addiction is a serious disease with serious consequences. Though people can recover from a seemingly hopeless state of body and mind, not everyone's so lucky. The important thing to remember is that for those out there who do have a problem, there are places to get help. If you know someone who may have a problem with alcohol or drugs, encourage them to visit www.aa.org or www.na.org depending on their specific problem. And lastly, though you can't always control what other people do, you can choose not to get into the car. Be safe out there.