Five years ago, a drunk driver caused an accident that left a toddler nearly brain dead. That man is now in jail. And last week, the toddler's mother confronted that drunk driver to tell him exactly how devastating that loss has been for her. Loubna Khader faced Stewart Richardson at the Fort Worth jail where he is serving his sentence, and she allowed a camera crew to film their encounter.
She began by showing Richardson a photo of her son Abdallah at the time of the accident, a 2-year-old boy with sparkling eyes and chubby cheeks. Then she showed him a photo of Abdallah now, in his vegetative stage, those sparkling eyes closed.
Khader asked news station WFAA 8 to accompany her after she saw their interview with Richardson. They agreed. The confrontation is excruciating to watch. I don't know how cathartic Khader's confrontation was for her. It's hard to see if she found any closure from this experience. Her last words are "I'll never forgive you. Never, never, never."
You could glibly say she has to forgive and move on, for her own emotional health. But when I try to put myself in her position, I start to understand the enormous weight she carries. I imagine the awful pain that must haunt her every day as she cares for a son who is still with her, but forever lost to her. Every day she is reminded of what one man took away. You can hear those feelings of loss and anger and powerlessness in Khader's cries.
Richardson says he's sorry and he prays for Khader and her family every day. I admire how he faces this mother and accepts full responsibility for what he's taken from her. But it's a nearly impossible situation. His apologies just make her angrier.
I think the only hope for closure for Khader is the possibility that her video will be shown to other people arrested for drunk driving. If you knew you could cause someone this much pain, do you think you would make another choice? I wonder. Richardson was a chronic drunk driver, which means he had a problem that went far beyond willpower.
As for Khader, maybe, once the cameras went away and she had time to reflect and breathe, she did feel a release after all. I hope so. She deserves it.
Do you think it would be helpful for parents of children hurt or killed by drunk drivers to have confrontations like these?
Image via WFAA 8