April 15, 2013
The Honorable Judge Loveless,
I honestly do not know where to start to explain the feelings my entire family are struggling with but I will try to put those feelings into words.
Saturday, June 16th, 2012, started out like any other day for my immediate family. We decided to go for a drive and get out of the house and I couldn’t find my cell phone, which turned into a blessing. My husband, I, our son, and daughter we laughed so hard the whole day. There was an air show out at our regional airport and we were finishing up along that route as we were headed home. About 30 minutes later I pulled into the driveway. The kids ran into the house to let the dogs out and the phone was ringing. I know it was my middle sister Stephanie but what she said didn’t make any sense, Debbie dead, how can that happen, I screamed and threw the phone at my husband like it was a snake that bit me. I was still sitting in my car beating the steering wheel. How can something like this happen to someone that was so careful in everything they did? There were a million questions running through my mind one of which was, now what happens? What do I do next?
I went to the computer and wrote what happened to my Wounded Warrior Sisters, my husband is a disabled combat veteran. My Sisters not only grieved for me they helped me to travel to New Mexico so I could be with my mom and the rest of the family. Next I had to figure out who could stay with my husband and the kids, thank goodness for best friends, she knew already and was prepared to come over for the whole week with her 3 daughters, her dog, and half her freezer. I was so very blessed during one of the most challenging times in my life so far. I still grieve, 10 months later. I wonder how people can be so ignorant to drive drunk and kill people. This HAS to change.
When tragedy strikes a family we often feel guilty, mad, frustrated, and angry. We wonder what happened to cause this tragedy.
There is only one cause of this tragedy - one person actively choosing to get behind the wheel of a vehicle in an impaired condition. It would not make any difference if it was a BAC of .08 or .2975, impaired is impaired. The offender will continue to live and see his family, talk to his children and mother, and feel the sunshine on his face – those same things which are now denied to Debbie because of the conscious decision to get behind the wheel and drive. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and in this case Mr. Clark needs to be in jail. My personal opinion is that getting behind the wheel while impaired is a premeditated action regardless of the outcome.
I know there are ‘behind the scenes’ actions to completing this case which results in Mr. Clark’s jail time sentence being a specified length of time with credit for time already served. I do not have to like it but I understand that is how the courts work. I would appreciate it if Mr. Clark is required to complete 100% of his sentence before being released on parole. I would also like to see his parole be 2 years and to include random drug and alcohol screenings. I would like to request that Mr. Clark make monthly donations to MADD as well as talk to others about the feelings that come with knowing he killed someone while in an impaired condition. Hopefully through education other families can be saved from the pain that our family will endure for the rest of our lives.
Debbie Valencia is/was my youngest sister, I was 7 when she was born so it was like having my very own ‘Baby Alive’, and she did everything the doll would have done and more. I learned so many life skills with Debbie that would serve me well in my life. She was so much more than a ‘Baby Sister’ to me. I helped to teach her how to read when she was in Kindergarten.
Debbie always made time to listen or help others regardless of what she was going through at the time. Even knowing her popularity as a child and teenager you cannot imagine my surprise when we had her funeral and there were more than 400 people there whose life she had touched and they all considered her a friend.
When my oldest child was born she arrived within minutes of him being born – she held him when he was only 10 minutes old, she was surprised that she was ‘late’ to his birth. Joey was not her first nephew but he was just as spoiled by Aunt Debbie as the oldest nephew had been. When my daughter was born Debbie decided that there was no way she was going to miss this so she showed up early and would not leave until she was born. Debbie was so much fun, she would watch the monitor for contractions and start telling jokes to keep my mind off the pain. She definitely made labor fun.
Debbie made up her own nicknames for the kids and would sing them silly songs, my daughter Veronica would always get Adam Sandler’s Hanukah Song, cleaned up for the baby.
When my husband and I got married she surprised us by coming from Albuquerque to Washington for the Wedding. The weather was horrible but she didn’t care, she was ready to have some fun and sing some karaoke with us afterwards. So glad mom got great pictures that night.
Debbie loved to laugh or to make others laugh. She would stand up and tell you like it was and that she loved you in the same breath. She made time for others. She was loving and caring. While she loved her nieces and nephews there was nothing in this world she loved more than her own two children, Ethan and Sophia.
Debbie loved her husband Matt but the kids were everything. Ethan was her shining moment, there was nothing she wouldn’t do for him including put him in his place when necessary. Finally, 8 years later, she had Sophia. There was a little girl that would have the girliest of everything if her mom had anything to say about it. Debbie was so happy to have that sweet little girl of own.
Debbie was the favorite Aunt of all the kids; she was the one they could talk to about anything and everything. Every child should have someone in their life like that, such a special bond. As sisters go she was wonderful, sure there were the times when we didn’t agree but there was still mutual respect in a disagreement. In the hierarchy of Debbie’s life was her kids, her husband, and our mom. Debbie set the standards really high for how to treat a mom. Mom and Debbie had a bond that was so different from my own bond with our mom and my hearts aches for my mom at everything she has lost with Debbie’s death.
Mr. Clark – I hope you live with guilt for the rest of your life for what you have done to our whole family. I hope that when you look at your own children, you remember that because of your actions, my niece and nephew no longer have a mother. Every time you look at your Mother you can feel the hurt of my own mother who can never tell her daughter how much she loves her or how precious she is to her. If you have a sibling, I hope every time you look at them you remember how much I hurt because I do not have my sister anymore. And EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT TAKING A DRINK YOU REMEMBER THAT ACCIDENT AS IF IT WERE HAPPENING AT THAT VERY MOMENT AND REMEMBER EVERYTHING THAT YOU STOLE FROM MY FAMILY.
This is the letter my children are submitting to the judge.
April 15, 2013
Dear Judge Loveless,
We are writing to you today to tell you how upset and heartbroken we are that a drunk driver killed our favorite Aunt.
Aunt Debbie was the greatest Aunt ever, she loved us unconditionally. When we were little she would make up silly songs and sing them to us. She was always so much fun and so loving.
We didn’t get to see her often since she lived in New Mexico and we live in Washington but some of our greatest memories are with Aunt Debbie. She always made time for us. Now we will never see her again.
We think it is very unfair that she had to die because someone made a very bad choice, bad choices are stupid choices. We (our cousins) will never see our Aunt Debbie ever again but his kids will get to see him again, not fair. Why should he be able to have the freedom he took from our Aunt?
We really wish the laws were fairer for everyone. Please keep him in jail, without freedom, for a very long time.
Joey Busenius (14)
Veronica Busenius (11)
Joey (in blue), nephew
Ethan (in black), son
Veronica on Aunt Debbie’s lap