I post this with much fear and trepidation and with as much respect to the families involved as I can possibly muster. Our hearts are with you.
Monday evening I was driving home from work in the rain. With the impending snowstorm, I knew the drive would not be a short one. After an hour of driving, I was nearly home, just an exit off of the interstate and a few miles and I was there. I decided to go an alternate route and head down the Interstate one more exit to avoid traffic in town and come to my house from the South side. Traffic grinded to a halt and my short cut apparently was cut short by an accident in the next town which was backing up traffic all the way up the Interstate.
Later, I heard the grumbling on Facebook about a fatal accident involving a drunk driver on one of the main roads. I didn’t think much of it. The next morning, though, I yelled at my screen when I saw the article announcing that the drunk driver was someone I knew.
Casie, the article said, had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit and rear-ended a vehicle, killing a young 22 old mother named Kristen Knight.
I cannot wrap my head around the devastation on either side. Like, I have been sick on my stomach thinking about it since I heard. As I type, it is 2 in the morning and I cannot sleep because it is heavy on my mind.
Listen, I have very little tolerance for drunk driving. It is something my family talks about often. Our kids, at a very early age, understood what drunk driving was and understood what devastation it could bring. Drunk driving is not just a mistake, it is a choice. We pay our bills with that belief.
And then Monday comes and Casie is the one making that choice. And while I in no way condone her decision, I can tell you that’s not the Casie I knew. Casie was one of the sweetest students in my graduating class. We weren’t extremely close, but I remember her to be a gentle spirit with a smile on her face. She was active in school and voted best looking in our Senior Superlatives. She had a supportive mother and by all accounts, I knew her to be a believer.
But somewhere, something must have gone terribly wrong. The facts state she had another DUI charge in 2008, so perhaps it’s been going wrong for a long time.
And I can’t help but think of my emotional affair and so many bad choices I made. Sin that entangles us does that to us. Our souls get enslaved and we say yes to our master without counting the consequences.
Oh, the consequences this time. Two mothers. One whose life was taken too early and another ruined.
To Casie I want to tell you that I have no stones to throw. I will be the first to set mine down, understanding that I am simply lucky my bad decisions haven’t yet had such devastating consequences. Redemption is available through Jesus Christ our Lord. He still has plans for you. He still loves you. He still forgives you. The crowd may not, but God says nothing—nothing—can separate his love from you. You may have gotten busted on Monday but I think you were busted up long before then. Use this opportunity to draw close to Him and let him heal those parts of you. He can give a new heart and a new zeal and fill all of those places you’ve been trying to fill. People are crying for you to rot, but God is crying to let Him redeem.
To the family of Kristen I would say a million apologies. Our family has lost loved ones due to drunk driving and it will turn a life inside out. It is absolutely terrible what has happened. I would beg of you, though, to work towards forgiveness of Casie. She might be the one sitting behind bars where she rightly deserves to be, but if you do not let grace and forgiveness take over, it will be your own souls barred, tortured and enslaved by bitterness. And it’s no way to live. No way. Do it not for her, but for you. Why do you forgive someone like Casie? Because God first forgave you. If his mercy is big enough and good enough to cast all of your sin as far as the east is from the west, then it has to be big enough for Casie’s too.
To others reading, I have on my heart two things we can do.
First, for Kristen’s family, a fund has been set up to take care of their expenses. Donate what you can and let’s rally around this family and help them in their time of trouble. Let’s show a world who York County really is because I know it to be full of compassionate, loving, Southern souls who know how to take care of each other.
Second, reach out to Casie and her family. I’m trying to get more info on how, but she has a long, terrible road ahead of her and is going to need support from wherever she can get it.
And finally, I hate to sound trite but we have to take a look at this and remind ourselves we are all only a decision away from altering so many lives. If it can happen to Casie and Kristen, it can happen to us. Let’s keep our roads in York County safe–please do not drink and drive. If you ever EVER need a ride anywhere, Scott and I will drive you, no questions asked.
I am praying for peace for all of us. That God would rain down a spirit of grace in our region and give us the ability to forgive and that it would remind us how desperately we all need a Savior every single day.
Letters can be mailed to:
Casie Terrell Cunningham
Inmate #: 48763A
York County Detention Center
1675-3A York Hwy
York, SC 29745