In the final article of a special three-part series called “Respect Life: Don’t Drink and Drive,” The Way Out Recovery, in partnership with KHTS, is wrapping up its message about the dangers of impaired driving.
Katie Evans, a mother of six children from Santa Clarita, was driving home from visiting her premature 2-month-old twin girls in the hospital NICU when she was killed by a drunk driver.
“Katie was such an extraordinary person that I got engaged to her 10 days after we met,” said Jacob Evans, her husband. “It did not take long for me to know she was the one I wanted to marry, and part of that was, her family was also just a really loving, great family.”
When Katie’s father gave his statement in the courtroom, testifying before a judge as well as the driver of the other vehicle, Alexia Cina, and her family, Evans recalled his message of love.
“He talked about Katie and how he knew that Katie loved her, the driver of that car,” Evans said. “He said, ‘You may wonder how I know that. The answer is because Katie loved everyone.’ And that’s just who she was.”
Evans continued, “It’s a tragic loss that, in a world where there’s so much intolerances and so much frustration and anger, that someone who loved so much, so unconditionally and so freely isn’t here anymore.”
Perhaps inspired by who Katie was as a person, Evans noted that his “heart went out to Miss Cina” and her family during the courtroom proceedings.
“It was really hard on her family as well as mine when this happened,” he said. “It was frustrating, they were heartbroken, they felt guilty… They wondered what maybe they could have done differently. So it wasn’t really just my family, and wasn’t just Alexia, who was impacted by this. It was her whole family.”
Evans recalled that even the judge presiding over the case was crying that day in court.
“She started crying because she realized that Katie was someone really special, she was someone really full of love, and now there’s these six kids who are going to have to grow up without really knowing their mom,” Evans said. “So even this veteran judge was crying and the Cina family was crying too, and we had hugs afterwards. I could tell they were really sorry.”
He continued, “At the end of the day, no one could bring (Katie) back, and we all just have to move on with our lives. I hope that they can pick up the pieces of their lives and make something really great out of it. That’s what we’ve tried to do in my family, is move on and do something positive, and that’s part of why I’m here (sharing my story).”
Forgiving Cina was “surprisingly easy” for Evans, because he noted he didn’t have the “strength or the energy to be angry” as he worked to make sure his children were taken care of in the aftermath of his wife’s death.
“I didn’t have time to be angry,” Evans said. “Later as things stabilized, I realized what a blessing that was that I hadn’t been consumed with anger. The truth of the matter is that forgiveness is for the forgiver, not the forgiven. If you harbor a grudge, it hurts you more than it hurts the person you’re holding the grudge against.”
He continued, “So I never actually had a hard time forgiving the driver, and I wish I could say it was because I was such a wonderful person, but I think really a lot of it just came down to, I felt sorry for her. I knew that this had really hurt her life and her family’s life, and I didn’t wish that on anybody.”
As much as Evans was hurt by what happened, he pointed out that there wasn’t anything to be gained from being angry, but that there is much to be gained by talking to young people about having a plan so they never drink and drive.
“My message is that you need to be smart. Don’t just think about tonight, think about your future, think about the future of the people around you,” Evans said. “You can drink -- that’s not necessarily going to hurt anyone. But if you do, make sure you’re not stupid about it. Call an Uber, call a Lyft, make arrangements… I’m not asking you to change your lifestyle. What I’m asking you to do is to think about the future.”
Evans concluded, “If you ever wonder about whether you really need (a ride) or not, just think about how you’re going to feel when you have to sit in court and face the family of the mother that you killed because you didn’t plan for the future, and I promise you, you’re going to have a second thought.”
Bob Sharits, program director at The Way Out Recovery SCV, emphasized the importance of recognizing that driving under the influence not only refers to alcohol, but to marijuana, prescription medications and other illicit drugs as well.
He encouraged those who choose to use these substances to not only plan for a safe ride home, but to speak up if they see someone else making the decision to drive under the influence.
“That decision right there and that planning ahead can make the difference from you having some tragic consequences, not only for yourself, but just as we’ve heard from Jacob Evans and how this has impacted his life,” Sharits said. “Be safe about everything that you do so that you don’t get behind the wheel and tragically impact your life or the lives of somebody else.”
In Santa Clarita, drug issues are a major concern for many. The mission of the Santa Clarita rehab The Way Out Recovery SCV Drug and Alcohol Outpatient Treatment is to provide high quality, effective alcohol and drug outpatient treatment. The drug rehab’s goal is to assist adolescents, adults and their loved ones in becoming happily and usefully whole, free from drug addiction. Those seeking Santa Clarita drug treatment or a teen drug rehab can rest assured that The Way Out Recovery’s philosophy is to teach lifelong coping skills and strategies to assist in improving quality of life and living happily and meaningfully without the need of destructive behaviors.
The Way Out Recovery SCV
28118 Bouquet Canyon Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91350