In a special three-part series called “Respect Life: Don’t Drink and Drive,” The Way Out Recovery is partnering with KHTS to share a message about the dangers of impaired driving.
“Jacob Evans was tragically left with six children to raise on his own after his wife, Katie Evans, was killed by a drunk driver,” said Bob Sharits, program director at The Way Out Recovery. “And so Jacob has come today to give us a message about how that has impacted his life, how it has impacted the lives of his children, and how it will continue to impact everything that he and his children do because of the decision of one person to get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol.”
Jacob began by saying that he is sharing his story because he wants people to understand the devastation of losing someone you love to a drunk driver in hopes of helping prevent a similar tragedy from happening to someone else.
“It completely ruined my life to that point,” he said. “There have been some good things that have happened since, but I don’t want anyone to have to go through the sort of suffering and pain that my family has gone through.”
Before getting into the details of that tragic night, Jacob talked about the type of person Katie was, noting that she’d “light up a room,” and helped anyone around her feel better just by being in her presence.
“Katie was amazing,” Jacob said. “She chose to have a really optimistic attitude towards things, and also she was very caring and very loving. She was always the first one to comfort someone who was going through something difficult, and so for me, it was kind of a double whammy when I lost her because, in that moment, I needed her the most because I just lost my best friend, and she wasn’t there.”
On Oct. 6, 2017, then 37-year-old Katie was driving home from visiting her 2-month-old premature twin girls at the hospital. She had been visiting them at the UCLA NICU every single day in hopes that her presence would help them get stronger and healthier so they could finally come home.
Jacob had left work early that day to take care of the couple’s four boys, and around 11 p.m., Katie called her husband to vent her frustration about something going on with the twins.
“I told her, ‘Look, you’re really tired. We’ve been going through a lot. Why don’t you just come home and we can deal with this tomorrow?’” Jacob recalled.
But when his wife hadn’t arrived home by midnight, Jacob tried to call her, only to have her phone go straight to voicemail. His worry steadily increased over the next few hours, when he also attempted to call the hospital to see if any of the NICU nurses had seen her, and a friend who worked in law enforcement to ask if he had heard anything.
No one knew where Katie was, and so by 2:30 a.m., Jacob decided to retrace his wife’s drive from Santa Clarita to the hospital in case she was stranded somewhere and in need of help.
“It was only a mile from the house where they had the whole road taped off and they wouldn’t let me through,” Jacob said. “They confirmed that there had been a car accident, and they wouldn’t tell it to me straight, but I was able to put all the pieces together and figure out that, unfortunately, that was her.”
Jacob continued, “I went home, and I wasn’t going to sleep, obviously. I just thought, ‘What am I going to tell the kids?’ A part of me wanted to wake them up and let them know, but I thought, no, let’s let them have one last good night of sleep.”
After calling the bishop at his church and a few close friends, Jacob was soon surrounded by a support system who stayed with him through the night. The coroner arrived at his house around 5:30 a.m. to officially confirm what they already knew.
“It took them a long time because they couldn’t positively identify the body -- it had been so mangled in the accident. They never even let me see the body,” Jacob said. “It was really hard. You want to at least be able to say goodbye, and I didn’t even get that chance.”
Being that Jacob and Katie never drank alcohol, it would be easy to assume they would never be affected by drinking and driving, but Jacob noted that thousands of people are killed by drunk drivers every year, and it would be naive to think it can’t happen to you. Now, Jacob not only strongly advocates against the decision to drink and drive, but encourages anyone who sees another person about to make that decision to speak up and potentially save someone’s life.
“I’ve never drank alcohol a day in my life, my wife never drank alcohol a day in her life, and yet alcohol killed my wife, and it left me with six children -- three still in diapers,” Jacob said. “Alcohol is everybody’s business. Don’t let your friends drink and drive. Don’t let somebody leave a party drunk, because you never know. It might be someone you know that’s life is impacted forever.”
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