Rather than appealing, Rob Ramage should just count his blessings.
After all, of the three people involved in the crash on December 15th, 2007, he's the only one that could possibly return to a normal life following his jail sentence.
Michelle Pacheco sustained serious injuries and the abhorrent memories, which she deals with when reminiscing about the crash that might never leave her mind.
The Magnuson family will never get their father, son, or husband back, and many people lost a very dear friend.
Rob Ramage however, is granted freedom.
Don't get me wrong, everyone is entitled to his or her freedom, but when it costs a human life you have to take some accountability.
In Ramage's defense, he has the backing, support, and forgiveness of Magnuson's family. They even suggested that instead of facing time in prison, Ramage merely tour high schools and talk about the dangers of drinking and driving with young athletes.
Dany Heatley got the same kind of side-road when his reckless driving killed teammate Dan Snyder in 2003.
There are two things I just can't comprehend in these situations:
- How can a family forgive the loss of a son? I've had this conversation with a few of my friends and family and we can never figure out how these people forgive so easily. If someone were to take either of my parents from me as a result of impaired driving, I wouldn't forgive them. At least not as soon as some of these families offer forgiveness, or maybe ever. Perhaps it's just something that stems from the situation, but I've never understood it.
- Why does the "forgiveness factor" weigh so heavily in these proceedings? It's astounding that the families found the strength to forgive those who broke the law (as I said above, I don't believe I could). But the point remains: These people broke the law. Why shouldn't they have to serve some kind of sentence?
(Note: This in no way means that I don't believe that Rob Ramage isn't remorseful, as it would take a completely inhumane person to not be for remorseful for causing the death of another person, I'm merely referencing how powerful the word sorry has become in our society.)
Even with his current sentence, Ramage is getting off much easier than he sould have.
The five charges he was found guilty of back in October included:
- Impaired driving causing death
- Dangerous driving causing death
- Having a blood alcohol level over the legal limit (80 milliliters)
- Impaired driving causing bodily harm
- Dangerous driving causing bodily harm
The original thought was that Ramage would never be able to live or work in the United States again, but that would be after serving 14 years in prison.
However on January 17th, 2008, one of the charges was stayed (Blood alcohol over the legal limit) and Ramage's time was reduced to four years in prison, and his license will be suspended for five years thereafter.
And people claim that this is harsh.
What's harsh is that we've finally encountered a judge who is trying to do the right thing. Ontario Supreme Court Justice Alexander Sosna has said that the accident was tragic, senseless, and that despite the fact that Ramage portrayed himself as an "exemplary citizen," Ramage's crime required a "serious sentence so as to deter others from drinking and driving."
(What's also harsh is how strange this case has become. People are stating that there was no alcohol at the funeral that both Ramage and Magnuson attended [the accident happened after the funeral], how that the urine samples stating that Ramage had been drinking were tainted by beer cans which exploded in the vehicle, and that the judge misstated critical evidence, and is guilty of stating his opinion on factual findings.)
If Ramage were to serve his sentence for four years, accept his ban on driving for five years, and talk to high school athletes upon the completion of his punishment, then this would be a much more sufficient sentence.
If Ramage were able to escape jail time, the impact he could have on these kids would be dramatically different.
Yes he can talk about how consuming alcohol and then driving killed a good friend, but teenagers aren't as brainwashed as you think. Some of them will recognize the pain he went through of losing someone close to him, while others will look at Ramage's situation and believe that if you're sorry enough for something, you can get away with murder. Literally. (The same strategy is employed by many of today
This is one of the reasons I respect Mark Bell so much.
Since his drunken hit-and-run incident in San Jose, Bell has owned up to what he's done and is even going to be serving his six-month sentence at the conclusion of the 2007-08 NHL season.
Some may say that he is cowardly and a menace because of what he did, but is it cowardly to accept responsibility for his actions?
Is it cowardly to own up to what he did wrong and take his lumps?
I'll say it right now: I personally admire anyone who has the courage to come out and admit that what he did was wrong and be willing to pay the price that's laid out before him and not try to negotiate their way out of it.
What becomes of Rob Ramage?
Well, the jury is still out on that one.