36-years-old Conn. woman warns others of the dangers of DUI after family killed

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – 6 years ago, Melanie Bassi’s mother promised that she will wake her up from a nap with a phone call on Christmas Day but instead, she received a message from police in her Connecticut hometown.

A neighbor was concerned about a large package left at the home of her parents who were visiting relatives in Florida. Bassi went to her parents’ home, observed 2 patrol cars and assisted the police officers bring in the package which was from her sister. The package was an excuse for police officers to get her face-to-face.

Bassi said, “I remember them saying, ‘This is not really why we’re here’. The next thing I remember them saying is, ‘Your dad didn’t make it.’ I think I almost passed out. Everything in an instant felt different and hurt, and I didn’t want to be in my body”.

Denise and Gerard Bassi, and Bassi’s grandmother, Linda McWilliams, died and her grandfather, Ray McWilliams suffered severe injuries when a pickup truck crashed into the back of their vehicle in which they were travelling. According to the authorities, the vehicle of the drunk driver was stopped at a red light. The accident happened in 2007 on Christmas day.

Authorities said that the driver had a Blood Alcohol Content level below the legal limit which is allowed for driving. He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, manslaughter and was sentenced to twelve years in jail.

4 years ago, Bassi began campaigning with Mothers Against Drunk Driving which also pays attention on driving under the influence of drugs or any other intoxicant. She speaks to the DUI offenders and high school students in which those students are also included who are at the school in Fairfield where she teaches math.

Some offenders who commit the crime of consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel cry and show regret or stare at her as she tells her story to them. Many times, they tell her that she altered the way they think. Bassi said, “You feel like you’re trying to make some good come of it”.

Bassi’s case is highlighted around the holidays by MADD when driving under the influence deaths usually increase.

A total of 9,865 fatalities occurred in 2011 between the Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve and from those, the number of individuals died due to DUI was 931.

According to experts, driving under the influence of drugs is also a big issue. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has set a goal of decreasing drugged driving in the United States 10% by the year 2015.

Bassi lost a mother and a father, her mother was a popular Girl Scouts troop and her father was a civil engineer. She said, “My dad was the person I always went to for any kind of life advice. I just felt like he knew about everything”.

The occasion of Christmas was her parents’ favorite holiday. Her mother would blast Christmas music, decorate the house and make meals like a rack of lamb and filet mignon. She said, “I don’t want to deal with Christmas really at all. It actually upsets me when we try and repeat the traditions. For me, it’s a reminder of how different things are”.

36-year-old Bassi opens presents on Christmas Eve and goes to the cemetery with her sisters where her parents are buried, lights candles and recalls the happy memories. Bassi tries to distract herself by going to the movies and getting Chinese food on Christmas Eve. Christmas is not the only reminder, the sound of construction reminds her of her father working on the house and the smell of pumpkin bread reminds her of her mother baking.

Sometimes the reminder is good but other times it causes pain.

A double rainbow that appeared during her parents’ funeral brought hope. “A lot of times we’re OK. But it’s always lingering. You always have to keep yourself in check because there might be a smell or a sound or a voice that reminds you of something. You could fall apart in a second, but you do everything you can to keep control,” said Bassi.

News Source: www.CtPost.com

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