It is one of those things you think will never happen to you, your family, or your friends. Nick Townsend never got to walk the line at graduation because a drunk driver caused a tragic wreck that would take his life. Drunk driving is a huge problem in this society. It destroys the lives of everyone involved, it is something that could easily be avoided, and it is something the world needs to stop viewing as an “accident.”
Drunk driving does not only affect the driver who chose to get behind the wheel impaired, it affects everyone they may or may not come in contact with. Nick was on his way home that night when a random woman he probably never met chose to drink and drive. Her choice changed Nick’s life and the lives of everyone he knew forever. The woman made a choice not only for herself when she got behind the wheel drunk, but she also made a choice about how Nick’s life would go. Nick had family who loved him more than anything, and he had friends who thought the world of him. Their lives were ultimately destroyed by one selfish decision a person chose to make.
Nick Townsend was and always will be a wonderful young man. He had big plans for his life. He wanted to go into the National Guard and when he finished with that journey in life, he wanted go come back to Portland and work for the police department. All he ever wanted to do was protect and save. Even at the end of his life, he was still able to do what he wanted by being an organ donor. This fact alone proves so much about the kind of human being he was. He was such an outgoing and selfless person. He was a wonderful friend to anyone he came in contact with. He always wanted to put smiles on our faces. He was hard working. He always fought toward his goals. He loved his family and God more than anything. He was never ashamed to admit he was a warrior of God. My heart truly believes Nick is up there in Heaven right now with his shield of faith and sword of light that he rightfully earned.
The definition of the term “accident” is an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally. Drunk driving is not an accident nor is it unintentional. When you make the decision to get behind the wheel impaired, you are doing so intentionally. Using the term accident minimizes the situation. It takes away responsibility from the person who decided driving while intoxicated was a good idea. Words have power; Nick did not die in an accident. He was coming home from an event he attended with his girlfriend and her family when a car crossed into their lane and hit them head on. An accident implies nothing could have been done to save his life. This simply is not true, had this woman chose not to drive while impaired, Nick would still be here with us today. People need to be held responsible for the choices that they make and society should not downplay drunk driving crashes by referring to them as accidents.
Even though Nick is no longer with us, he will always live on in our hearts and minds. He had such a huge impact on our small town in Portland, TN. I watched my brother’s life change significantly on that day in May 2015. I watched his heart shatter when he found out his best friend was gone. My brother would be the first to tell you what an amazing person Nick was. They had some great memories together. Anyone who ever came in contact with Nick was better for it. His family suffered a great loss, but his mother has fought from day one to keep his memory alive. She has been so strong and brave through all of this. She speaks out about his story often in hopes it will save lives and help people realize drinking and driving is never worth it.