Anniversaries represent a date when something began; a new relationship was formed, a special event celebrated, or a day of remembrance of something significant (and sometimes life changing) that happened. For Joyce Wisdom, September 1st 1992, marks a day that she will never forget. For 25 years she has experienced the grief caused by the drunk driving crash that killed her oldest son, Officer Brent Wisdom of the Fort Worth Police Department.
Officer Wisdom had dreamed of joining law enforcement since he was a kid. He and his younger brother would watch the TV Show “Miami Vice” and share stories of becoming police officers and fighting against crime. At the age of 22, Officer Wisdom began fulfilling his dream when he graduated from the Fort Worth Police Academy. Just a few months after being sworn in, Officer Wisdom was on duty when he saw a motorist and his 14 year old son on the side of the road experiencing car trouble. Without hesitation, Officer Wisdom offered his assistance. He parked his patrol unit behind the car and began changing a flat tire when a vehicle struck him from behind and pinned him in between both cars.
Officer Wisdom incurred massive internal injuries and a traumatic brain injury after his head went through the offender’s car windshield. He was flown to Harris Hospital where he underwent surgery. The surgeon told Officer Wisdom’s family that he had repaired all of his internal injuries as best as he could but both of his legs had to be amputated. The surgeon also said that he was taking him to the trauma center to examine his head injury next. “I remember the doctor saying, if he can hang on for 45 more minutes, we can work on his head injury”, Joyce recalls. Ten minutes later Officer Wisdom’s heart stopped while the doctors were performing CPR, both of his lungs exploded. “There was nothing more for them to do, the driver had literally ripped my son in pieces”. He died at approximately 1:00 AM, September 2nd.
Officer Wisdom died a hero, and his spirit has lived in all of the lives that he touched. He loved being outdoors hunting, fishing, and golfing. His family remembers him as a funny, feisty, and a kind-hearted man. “He just wanted to do good- yes, he wanted to catch ‘bad guys’, but he also just wanted to help people” Joyce said. This is exactly what Officer Wisdom did 25 years ago: he helped a man and his son, whom were both unharmed from the crash. He saved people’s lives. “This should not have had to happen. Drinking and driving is a choice, and your choices change your life and hundreds of people that you don’t think about. We get to make a choice, but we don’t get to choose our consequences; we don’t get to choose how many people the consequence affect or how long the consequence is for”.
Twenty five years have passed since the life of a young police officer was taken in a senseless crime. The drunk driver was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He has served his sentence, while Joyce and her family continue to think of Brent wherever they go. “Every time I see a police car or an officer I think of him. Time has not healed my heartache nor will it ever do so I have accepted it, and I know that it can’t be undone. Every day, I learn how to live with it. I have a place in my heart that will forever belong to Brent.”
Joyce and her family plan on spending this 25th anniversary eating hamburgers and ice cream, Officer Wisdom’s favorite foods. She shares her story and grief journey through MADD in hopes that others can reflect on the effects of drinking and driving when celebrating special dates and anniversaries. She hopes Officer Wisdom’s legacy continues to live on. “You don’t have to be in uniform to be a hero, you can save people’s lives by choosing to not drink and drive,” while Joyce will continue to celebrate Officer Wisdom’s life every September 1st, she hopes that in the next 25 years there will be a future of No More Victims.