As part of our recognition of National Police Week, we'd like to highlight a fallen hero.
Scott grew up dreaming of serving as a police officer.
At the age of 14, he joined the Police Explorer Post with the Bridgeton Police Department. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the Navy and was stationed in Oak Harbor Washington. Then, he went through the police academy in Washington and started working as a police officer. Scott wanted to move back home to be closer to family and friends and, he, eventually, became a police officer in Missouri.
He was a very easygoing guy and quite the prankster. You would never see him without a smile. He spent his free time just hanging out with family and friends, and he was the happiest when he was jet skiing at the Lake of the Ozarks. When Scott wasn’t on his jet ski, you could find him running, working out, or watching WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). The sparkle in Scott’s eye was his son, Tyler. Tyler was 8 years old when Scott was killed.
Officer Scott Armstrong was on a routine patrol in early morning hours of January 12, 2005. Calls were coming into 911dispatch about a wrong-way driver. The dispatcher was trying to provide the information to Officer Armstrong over the police radio, but he was unable to respond. The driver had already hit him. The drunk driver, traveling in the wrong direction, collided with his patrol car. Officer Armstrong died at the scene.
Today, we honor Officer Scott Armstrong for his service as an officer upholding the law and working to keep the public safe.
On May 14, 1988, a school bus carrying 67 people, nearly all of them children, was returning to Radcliff, Ky. from a church youth group field trip to an amusement park. While they were driving through Carroll County, Ky., a drunk driver driving on the wrong side of the road crashed into the bus head-on, killing 24 children, the bus driver and two adult chaperones, and injuring 34 others.
As a part of the crash anniversary, MADD is partnering with the filmmakers behind a feature documentary film, IMPACT: AFTER THE CRASH, which tells some of the powerful stories of loss and healing through interviews with many of the crash survivors and victims’ family members. As part of our recognition of the victims - both those that died and the survivors - MADD is proud to offer an exclusive, one-day ONLY viewing of the movie. MADD viewers can watch the movie from 10 a.m. - when the bus roughly left the church, headed for the amusement park - until 10:55 p.m. - about the time of the crash. Enter promo code "MADD" to watch the film here. The documentary can be accessed through Vimeo.com or Apple TV.
Additionally, we are dedicating our Twitter feed to the victims of the crash Saturday. Every 23 minutes, we will tweet out one victim name. We do this as a way of saying, "You are not forgotten."
On Mother's Day weekend, 1996, Phaedra, age 22, a preschool teacher who had also done some modeling on the side, was enjoying a concert with some friends not far from her hometown. The two car loads of youth who were completely sober were driving home in Morgan County, Missouri, as a misty rain began to fall. Unbeknownst to them, a drunk driver with a .08 BAC was heading their way as he crossed the center line of Highway 5. Phaedra's friends in the car in front managed to see him in time to swerve. The drunk driver clipped them and headed straight for Phaedra's car. As he topped the hill around a curve, she had no warning and he hit her nearly head-on.
Phaedra's injuries were numerous and life-threatening. At the hospital, doctors discovered that the impact of the crash had ripped her aortic valve from her heart. Most people would have died within minutes, but Phaedra had not. In an emergency surgery to repair it, surgeons struggled to stop the bleeding. They quickly realized that she would bleed to death on the operating table if something wasn't done immediately. So, to save her life, they cut off the blood flow to her lower extremities to slow the bleeding enough to make the repairs to her heart.
She spent 3 weeks in a coma and 5 1/2 weeks on life support before waking to learn that the decision to save her life had cost her the ability to walk. In addition, she also had plates in her arm and both legs due to both ankles, a left femur, and a right forearm being broken. Her pelvis had been broken on both sides as well as 4 ribs. Both lungs had collapsed and her liver had been lacerated. Her gallbladder, appendix, and spleen were damaged and all had to be removed.
Phaedra's son was 4 years old at the time of the crash. She missed his first day of kindergarten because she was still in the hospital. As he grew up, someone else taught him to ride a bike, played in the ocean waves with him, and rode roller coasters with him while she sat on the sidelines and cheered, quietly wishing she could be the one beside him.
In 2000, Phaedra began working for MADD Missouri. She became a Victim Specialist helping other victims by providing emotional support and guidance through court proceedings. In 2010, she was crowned Ms. Wheelchair USA, again bringing awareness to the dangers of drunk driving by choosing it as her official platform. In 2012, she moved to Tennessee as the Underage Drinking Specialist for the MADD Tennessee state office. She built the program up from a presence that was non-existent to the top program in the country, talking to thousands of teens annually about the dangers of underage drinking and sharing her story with kids, parents, and DUI offenders.
Phaedra's original scars may have healed, but the impact of a DUI crash lasts for a lifetime. With no spleen, Phaedra is more susceptible to illness and her immune system is unable to fight simple infections. An ear infection can end up in a hospital stay. Independent and resolute, Phaedra drives, works full time, and is now the mother to an 8 year old daughter, as well as her grown son and step-daughter. People are amazed at how she lifts her wheelchair overhead, in and out of her car, and is not deterred from anything she sets her mind to doing. However, her determination takes its toll on her body. She recently had to have surgery on her arm because a problem with one of the plates had caused a fracture in her arm. Because she is constantly lifting her chair and transferring herself in and out of it, the injury to her arm caused a significant hardship on her ability to proceed with life as normal. And because of her immunity problem, the healing process was also complicated.
But those who know Phaedra, know that despite the lifelong affect drunk driving has had on her life, the thing that stands out most about her is her positive attitude. She never waivers. For years, she has fought to serve others who have been impacted by the crimes of drunk and drugged driving and underage drinking and to spread awareness about their dangers by sharing her story. She is an inspiration to all! And she will continue to fight until MADD fulfills it's vision of No More Victims!
By Dr. Gloria Horsley, an internationally known grief expert and author. Gloria is the founder of the Open to Hope foundation.
Mother’s Day is a great time to honor our own mothers, as well as ourselves as mothers. However, for those who have suffered a loss this day can be bitter sweet.
The death of a mother can make one feel a sense of abandonment, while a bereaved parent may feel a sense of failure because they were not able to protect their children. As a society, we have always put heavy expectations on mothers. One of my favorite writers was the late Erma Bombeck, whose brand humor was spot on regarding motherhood. Below is a quote from her book, When God Created Mothers.
“And God said, Have you read the specs on this order? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic. Have 180 moveable parts...all replaceable. Run on black coffee and leftovers. Have a lap that disappears when she stands up. A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair. And six pairs of hands."
If you identify with these overwhelming expectations and Mother’s Day is a down-day for you, a day that brings sadness rather than joy or hope, I suggest you follow the advice of my friend Byron Katie, creator of The Work, and take the opportunity this Mother’s Day to “Mother Yourself.”
Start the day by looking in the mirror and saying, “I am a special person, one of a kind, and today is my day.” Then, do something that brings you joy or just helps you get through the day.
Below are a few things to get you started.
1. Have a bubble bath – I like the balls that fizz in the hot water.
2. Read a good book or magazine – I like to curl up with Vanity Fair.
3. Listen to some music that is uplifting – Elvis makes me smile.
4. Cut yourself some slack- Remind yourself that you did the best you could at the time.
5. Don’t buy into the idea that there is or ever was a “perfect mother.”
6. Let others serve you on this day – No cooking for yourself.
7. Get some light exercise – Go for a walk or take a restorative yoga class.
8. Spend time in nature or attending church services.
9. Do accept the appreciation of family members especially your children.
Remember that Mother’s Day is only one day. Be prepared that the days leading up to any anniversary or holiday can be more stressful than the actual day. Let others know if it is a dreaded day for you so they can help out.
Open to Hope
After visiting West Virginia recently, I could certainly understand why John Denver wrote his popular song “Take Me Home, Country Roads”. Everyone made me feel like I was at home. I was in Wheeling to recognize twenty law enforcement officers for their extraordinary efforts concerning drunk driving.
Sponsored by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program and Straub Automotive, the event was attended by more than 100 people. I had the honor of talking with two of the MADD Wheeling Chapter volunteers, President Melissa Goldbaugh and Jody Miller who have an incredible tie that binds them together.
Jody’s daughter, Heather, was killed by a drunk driver and Melissa's husband Bill, a law enforcement officer, was there at that tragic scene. Later, Bill was killed by a drunk driver. The loss that each has suffered has brought them together to do tremendous things in West Virginia. They couldn’t be more supportive of law enforcement, generously showing their appreciation. The efforts by the Wheeling Chapter earned it the Chapter of the Year Award in 2015, and I was honored to present them with that award at the National Conference in Washington, DC last year.
I am pleased to share more pictures from this wonderful event below.