The night my son was stolen from us was undoubtedly the worst day of our lives. Stacy Moermond, Jr. was a son, a husband, a brother, a nephew, a cousin and a wonderful father of two young boys. His sons had to see their father die on a highway because of a choice not of his own. His boys now have to grow up without him. I have to live the rest of my days mourning the loss of my child, who was only 23 years old and had so much life to live. Now, he will never get that chance.
On June 19th 2010, my son’s car ran out of gas after picking up his boys from their cousin’s house. Stacy pulled off of the road and walked across the highway to fill his gas can. He was putting that gas in his car when he was run down. The drunk driver, Curtis Ward, was at a BBQ all day and decided to stop at his favorite bar on the way home. He continued drinking, and decided to get into his pickup truck and drive home. He didn’t make it. Instead he hit Stacy with his pickup truck and threw him into the highway. He hit him so hard, he literally knocked Stacy out of his shoes. Stacy’s children, Stephen who was only one and Nathan, 6 years had to witness this violence upon their own father. They were in their seat belts, thank God and not physically injured, but emotionally.
The drunk driver ended up crashing into a ditch. He got out of his truck as if nothing had happened, per the police report, and stood by his truck and smoked a cigarette. He never once went over to Stacy or his children to try and help him, or to see if he was still alive. Stacy’s heart was still beating long enough for them to load him into an air flight, when he passed away. The drunk driver made up a story about a semi-truck and told the police it was going to run him over. He decided, instead of him getting hit by the truck, to just hit the person on the side of the road. According to witnesses, there was no semi-truck. This was the driver’s fourth offense for DUI.
Stacy lived in Ohio, where we were from, but I lived in California. I was at work when I got a call saying my son had been in a car accident (I would never call this an accident. It was a crash and a violent crime). My manager called my husband to come pick me up. I was too upset to drive. We were not home even five minutes when I got the second call. My son had died. I drove to Ohio with my daughter. When we got to the funeral home to see my son, he was unrecognizable. He had an enormous amount of facial trauma, and trauma to the rest of his body too. I could not believe that was my son I was looking at. My heart was, and is, forever broken.
My cousin and her husband worked for days on making a beautiful cross to place on the spot where my son lost his life. They made sure to get it finished before I had to come home, so I could go with them to put it up. After Stacy’s funeral, we went to the site, dug a deep hole and put the cross in it, with a spotlight, and cemented it in to the ground. I then had to return home after the week of being there.
I soon received a call from my cousin, who made the cross, that it had been torn down and discarded in the woods, right behind a store where the drunk driver owned a swap meet booth. My cousin had typed up the story about what had happened to Stacy, along with her phone number, and attached it to the cross. That’s how she got the call when it was found. When all of this was happening, the drunk driver’s family was trying to dig up every piece of dirt they could on my son, as if he were at fault. They were saying all sorts of bad things about my son online, stirring up gossip and trouble around every corner. They were angry because the offender was going to jail, and angry because of the news coverage about what he did to my son. It was a very emotional roller coaster for months on end.
The court proceedings:
Curtis Ward never once showed any remorse for what he did, in our family’s presence. I was not able to go back again for the court hearings, but my family said he was just sitting in court with a smirk on his face. And during the reading of our impact statements (mine was read for me), he was sitting there smiling and laughing with his lawyer.
Well, he laughs no more.
Curtis Ward received the max for Ohio law, seven years with no early release and indefinite license suspension. And when he gets out of prison, in 2017, if he gets into trouble once more he will have to serve half this sentence again. Not nearly enough time for murdering someone.
A few months ago, I was discussing this case with the Ohio prosecutor’s office. They informed me that the drunk driver had written a letter last year to my family. I asked them to send me a copy. I wanted to see what this man had to say, and if there was finally some remorse in his words. After I read the letter, I wasn’t sure what to think. He rambled on about sharing Stacy’s story in prison so Stacy did not have to die in vain, saying he wanted to keep his memory alive. And, when he gets out, he wants to talk to school children, and in AA meetings, about the effects of drunk driving. But, to me, he just kept repeating himself. I’m still not sure if I want to, or should, respond to his letter or not. In my heart, I want to respond. Not to accept his apology, because I’m not even sure if he was actually trying to apologize or not, but to ask him to ask his family to leave my son’s cross alone. My sister and I would like to put it back up next year on the 5th angelversary of Stacy’s death.
Stacy, mommy misses you so very much. There is never a day that goes by that I do not think of you and cry often. Your babies are getting so big. They have turned out to be wonderful little boys, and they are so smart. You would be so proud of them. In our hearts forever, you are loved and missed. Love, Mom
Thank you for letting me share my story, Dawn Turpin