Diane, my family will forever be changed because of your actions. Your decision to get behind the wheel of your vehicle and drive after being so drunk most people would be in the hospital.

You’d think that December 9, 2019 would be hard because that’s the day we received the phone call that Punkin had been in an accident and was in a coma. I do have to say that running over someone three times does not qualify as an accident in my opinion. My personal hell began the next day when I arrived in Tacoma from North Carolina to be with Punkin. Had our little sister not been in the room with her, I would not have believed it was Punkin. Her head and face were swollen to the point you could barely see her eyes, there were so many cuts and half of her head had been scalped… Yes scalped, not shaved, with an 8-inch wound that had to be stapled shut beginning at her temple going up to the top and the back of her head. 

We spent the next seven days taking turns at her bedside. I helped the nurses turn her to keep her from getting bedsores. We watched as she went from being able to nod or shake her head to answer our questions, to her progressively being unable to respond, have seizures and anger outbursts so bad that they had to tie her down. The deepest hurt was leaving, with some hope of recovery, only to have the doctor call the next day to say she took a turn for the worse and it was time to talk about end of life. The six of us siblings made the choice out of love and compassion to take her off life support, and our nieces signed the paperwork for the same reason, LOVE! I have since received texts and phone calls from a relative who I was once close to calling me a murderer and placing blame for Punkin’s death on me. Diane, you will never be the person someone blames for your sister’s death, NEVER! I carry that cross even though it’s yours to bear!

Since Punkin’s death, our older sister has had a couple heart attacks and has been suicidal; they were each other’s best friends growing up and were always close. 

Now let me tell you about the woman you took from us! She was fun, witty, protective of her friends and family and forgiving of anyone for anything! She was not only my big sister, but also my mentor, confidant, coach and so much more! She taught me how to play softball, volleyball, helped my basketball skills and how to run the hurdles like they weren’t even there. She even saved me from a rattlesnake when I was little.

She never had children of her own, but stepped in and raised our nieces after their father killed their mother. Punkin died December 20, 2019, exactly one week from the 24th anniversary of their mother’s death. December will always be a dark month for our family.

Diane, I don’t know if you were truly pleading guilty because of remorse or simply to hope for less time. I really want to believe you feel remorse for taking my sister’s life. I hope you have taken the time to reflect on your life choices. You are no longer able to consume alcohol. I pray that you continue to stay away from it once you are released and maybe you can be someone’s mentor and help them before they can get to the point you are at. You are able to go on with your life, make decisions to help yourself and others. Make a difference!

Melinda McLean