Faith Carberry was 7-years-old when she watched her sister die in a car accident. The girls’ mother was driving the car. She was drunk.
Faith, now 12, is suing her parents for the physical and psychological injury they caused. Faith and her brother, John, sustained severe injuries when their alcoholic mother passed out while driving the children home from school. Ava, Faith’s 6-year-old sister, and friend Michaela Logan, 9, died when the vehicle crashed into an embankment.
The children’s mother, Mary Carberry, was “in the middle of a pub crawl and decided to pick up the four kids from school.” Mary remembers bits of the accident that killed her youngest daughter. “All I remember is the thump. Then the flashing blue lights,” she testified in court in 2007. “I did not know what I hit. I remember Ava, I remember her face, I just don’t know what happened. I don’t remember arriving in the hospital.”
After the accident, Mary was sentenced to six years in prison, but her time was later reduced to four years.
Now, Faith, with the help of her grandfather, is seeking justice for her sister. Faith was injured in the accident, undergoing surgery to her spine and spending ten weeks in a spinal cast at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital. Faith also suffered “severe psychological trauma and upset and she attended a child psychologist for three months after the incident.”
Mary Carberry had already been banned from driving at the time of the accident. After two previous DUIs, Mary had no license and no insured vehicle. Faith’s father – also being targeted in the girl’s lawsuit – claims that he bought Mary a car, but didn’t expect her to drive it. He’d merely purchased the car after Mary allegedly told him that the children were “wet and cold” walking to and from school.
“It pulled at my heart strings. She was seeking for me to provide transport, purchase a car and somebody who was insured and had a full licence would drive it,” Tommy Varden told the court, adding that he never intended for Mary to drive the purchased BMW.
Varden added that Mary was attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at the time, and “seemed to be turning a new leaf.”
The father recounts the night of the accidents, saying that he received a phone call from Mary. “She said Ava was dead and she thought Faith was dead too,” he said. Vargan notes that it was only when he arrived at the hospital that he discovered Mary had been driving the car.
“I was angry. I am still very angry. No way would I have given the car to her if I thought she was going to use it that way. I trusted her,” he said.
Faith, however, still holds her father responsible. He did, after all, purchase Mary a car. Vargan insists that, although he’d purchased the vehicle, it was only later that he discovered Mary had insured it, forging his signature on a check.
The lawsuit was settled on Wednesday, but the official outcome has yet to be disclosed.
According to Yahoo!News, Faith’s story is not a unique one. In the US, more than two-thirds of children fatally injured in car accidents “were riding with drunk drivers.” Young children, unlike adults, often do not have the awareness or option to opt out of getting into a car with an intoxicated driver, especially if a parent is behind the wheel.
In March, a mom in Iowa was allegedly driving drunk, and her 15-year-old daughter called 911 from the passenger’s seat. In 2009, four young kids died in a crash after their guardian was found to have a “blood alcohol level of.19 percent.
Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) claims to have received “an increasing number of alarming calls from concerned individuals regarding children riding with impaired drivers.” The organization believes that harsher penalties need to be administered to drunk driver’s when children are involved.
Readers: Do you think this little girl was right to sue her parents for her injuries and death of her sister?