In ironic news of the day, a substance abuse counselor is accused of plowing her car into a man walking on the street and then driving nearly two miles with the injured, dying man embedded in her windshield. The 51-year-old woman accused of this crime is/was a recovered alcoholic and heroin addict who runs a substance abuse program.
Stories like these often elicit some bad taste jokes, but they shouldn't. This apparent coincidence should not be surprising to anyone, any more than the teacher who fails a grad school exam or the evangelical minister who cheats on his wife. Very few people are able to practice what they preach 100 percent of the time, especially people battling substance abuse.
Now what IS surprising about this story are some of the other eerie coincidences ... yes, there are more.
The least of these coincidences is that the woman whose job in life was to teach other people tactics for staying sober was driving under the influence of ... something herself. She had been clean for eight years, reportedly, and had seemed to have turned her life around. She went through training as a counselor, and was working toward her bachelor's degree, according to a MySpace page. She was reconnecting with her children and was looking for even more family members that she pushed away through her years of addiction.
Only to throw all that positive, hard-fought progress away in one poor decision and a drive down the road. That's a tragedy in and of itself, never mind that she also took a life and ruined many others in the process.
The man who was hit by Sherri Wilkins, who was reportedly two times over the legal limit, was a 31-year-old named Phillip Moreno. (This was not the first time Wilkins has hit and run. Except that time, in 2010, Wilkins was not found to have any drugs or alcohol in her system and the charges were eventually dismissed.)
Moreno just so happened to be walking home from a bar when he was hit. It wasn't the dry cleaners or the grocery store but a bar. Who knows if he was even drinking himself -- that doesn't matter -- it's just the place from which he came is what's so coincidental.
Wilkins later told police she panicked and kept driving until police converged and stopped her. One of the people who responded to the emergency services call was Moreno's brother-in-law. That brother-in-law, who worked for the city and was putting up barriers around the police investigation, was also a patient of Wilkins. He learned about the victim's identity while he was working there. What are the chances?
Wilkins, who was described by her patients as a sweet person who helped many kick their habits and stay sober, is being held on $100,000 bond and faces numerous charges related to this crime. What caused her to fall off the wagon after so long on a good path? Like all those weird coincidences, there will be no good answer. It could have been the holidays. It could have been just a bad day. A bad day that turned out incredibly, horribly worse.
Do you feel any sympathy for people like Wilkins who tried so hard to turn her life around and ended up making a grave mistake?
Image via Michael Cory/Flickr