My name is Terri Goudy. I’m sharing this with you in the hope it will reach you in a way that keeps you from ever having to experience what my husband Tom and I and our children have had to and to prevent others from being lost in such a senseless and completely preventable tragedy.
Okay...Here is the story of the accident when Arielle Lewandowski, age 17, Paige Riley-Berg, age 20, and our son Samuel T. Goudy, age 19 were killed by one man's choice to drink and drive on the early morning of June 19, 2009.
This is very hard for me to write, I have never written about the accident since Sam and the girls died. I don't know why, but, to write about him, to actually put his name to a computer or to paper, makes me cry. So, I usually put down the pencil or close the computer and just hold it in my heart.
But, I know how important it is for people to put a face to what they may do. That is to drink and then get behind the wheel of a car. Because, that car actually then becomes a weapon and that choice can change an entire families lives forever. I would never wish that on anyone. I would never wish for any mother or father or sister or brother to stand by a grave of someone they love so much and realize...there is nothing they can do to bring that person back. Not ever. How can a person, who you never met, so impact your life? It's because that person made the choice to drive after they have drank.
In the early morning of June 19, 2009, Samuel's dad and I were sleeping. I woke up to my cell phone ringing in my purse, which I keep in our closet. Now, Tom and I never, at that time, had our cell phones on at night. But, this night we did.
I flew out of bed and grabbed my phone, always thinking the worst, but hoping for the best. When I flipped the phone open, it stopped ringing. I then heard Tom's phone ringing from the kitchen. I ran to that phone and picked it up. On the other end was a nurse from St. Vincent's hospital in Green Bay. She asked if I knew a particular cell phone number. I said I didn't recognize it. She then said there was an accident and asked if we had a son. I told her that we have four sons and a daughter. She then asked if he had any distinguishing marks. I told her that he had gotten a few tattoos when he was in the army at Fort Drumm. She asked me to describe them and I did. She said that they matched the young man that was at the hospital. I then remembered that Samuel had gotten a new phone and a new phone number and I told her that, yes, the phone number was his. My heart at this point was dropping out of me and the tears were pouring down my face. She asked if one of us could please get to the hospital right away. Samuel's dad then came out and I told him what the nurse had told me and he got dressed to race to St. Vincent's. At this point, we did not know that he was with other people; we did not know he was hit by a drunk driver. All we knew was our oldest son was hurt.
I was getting dressed to go and Tom told me to stay, to be with our other children. That he would go first and let me know the extent of everything. I remained home and sat and just prayed and prayed. So torn, with wanting to be there, but knowing his brothers and sister needed me to comfort them too.
After Tom arrived at the hospital a police officer met him at the door and said, "I want you to know that your son and his two friends did absolutely nothing wrong." That comforted Tom to know that they did not cause the accident. They then took him to where Samuel was and explained that Samuel and his two friends, Arielle Lewandowski and Paige Riley-Berg were hit head on in the southbound lane of Hwy. 41 by a drunk driver.
They told Tom that the girls died at the scene and Samuel was found lying in the back seat moaning and trying to breathe. The Brown County Sheriff's Deputies, themselves, pulled the door off the car to get him out. Tom was told that Sam's liver was crushed, his lungs were collapsed and he was bleeding profusely internally. They then let him go in by Sam. Tom went over by our son and just held his hand. Sam was not conscious at this point and Tom just told him how very much we loved him. That we wanted him to know that if he wanted to go that we knew he would be with the Lord and sooooo happy. He told him how proud we were of him and that no one could ever, ever replace him in our hearts. Tom reached over and kissed our son's face. Then he had to leave the room.
He then called me and told me what happened. How does a mother who held that little boy in her arms and fell so in love 19 years ago, prepare to possibly have him gone from this earth, never to hold him again, never to hear his voice say, "I love you mom." How do you do that? I felt like when I gave birth to him. I wanted to be alone with Tom and just have quiet. I had called people, to pray for Samuel and just to let them know. And, even though everyone wanted to come and be with me, all I wanted to do is sit and talk to the Lord and wait. I didn't want anyone.....to....see...me....grieve. I didn't want to have to talk to anyone. I just knew that I wanted my son to live, but I knew that it may be that the Lord is calling him Home.
I told God that if it is His will for Samuel to be Home with Him, I trusted Him. I asked Him to comfort Sam and to just hold him close. It's hard to release that kind of trust, but God gave me the strength and He is still giving me the strength today to bear it.
In the early morning my sister in law, Tracy, came driving in the drive way. By this time, our other children were up and I told them what had happened. We all just sat close and tried to take in what one person did to the person we loved.
I then felt a strong sense to go to the hospital and we took off. When I arrived, I just clung to Tom, like I wanted to bury myself inside of him and not feel the pain I knew was coming. Dr. McNutt, who we will always love, came out and said that if they did nothing...Samuel would for surely die. They wanted to go in and try to repair the liver and see if they could stop the bleeding. We told him to do anything. And, during all this time they continued to allow Tom to go in about every one half hour and sit by our son. At this point, Sam's body was swelling with the fluids and he wasn't very recognizable any more. :(
At this point several people came up to be with us. That was a comfort, but I again didn't want to have to have people see me grieve. We then heard the code blue and additional nurses started to run down the hall. Tom flew out of the room and just knelt before those doors. Our pastor, Danny Bond, went to him and just held him. I was on my way to Tom, but a nun stopped me and took me into one of the mourning rooms. :( Tom later told me he just asked God to do His will and to let Sam know how much we loved him. They then came and got Tom and brought him to where I was.
Dr. McNutt and the other surgeon, I don't remember his name, came into the room and told us that Samuel was gone. How can a boy, so full of life, be here and now was gone from this Earth forever. My heart was broken and Tom and I just clung to each other and cried and cried and cried. The doctors were crying and we hugged them and thanked them for everything they tried to do. They and the nurses worked on our son for 12 hours straight. What dedication. We will forever love them all.
We then were asked, and I know this is hard for them to do so soon after, but we asked what we would like to donate, if anything. We donated Sam's eyes, his skin for burn and cancer victims and his bones for reconstruction. :(
We then were told that we could see him, but the surgeon told me he advised me not to. That he looked so different. He wanted me to remember Sam the way he was. I was grateful for his wisdom.
We were then handed a bag and we left. Just like that, we had to leave him. I looked into the bag and saw his clothes he had on. They were cut down the middle so they could get them off of him when he came in. And there was only one shoe. I don't know why, but that made me so sad, too. I just held them and cried.
So, after being at a birthday party with friends and on their way home, a man, who was over 3 times the legal limit drove Northbound in the southbound lane with no headlights on and took three precious children's lives.....forever gone.
We have forgiven Mr. Seibert for doing what he did and we pray for his family. They lost someone they love too. You have to forgive or it will consume you. He paid the ultimate price. He also died. I just wish a friend of his would have driven him home. Then his family would have him and our children would be here.
As a result of not wanting anyone to lose someone and feel what we have felt, we started a foundation. It's called, "Plz...Give the Keys!”, a Samuel T. Foundation. We hope to raise enough money through our benefits and donations to get the blue wristbands and other items to as many police stations, bars, driving schools and schools who teach drinking and driving classes, to save even one life. To make someone think.....to give those keys away....have someone drive you home...and save life.