Judge gives McKewon sentence of 4 years Crimes & Incidents, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on May 23, 2008 at 9:17 pm
Kathy Williams said it took her months to get the strength to leave her home and begin doing normal things again.
"None of you will ever know the feeling, except some people who are here supporting me, to lose a child," she said through tears.
Williams, the mother of Laurel Williams, 19, who was killed in an alcohol-related car accident last October, said she has to "fight every day to live" to overcome her heartbreak.
Hers and other friends and family members' comments were made at a sentencing hearing this afternoon at the Hayward courthouse for Katie McKewon, 20, who was driving the Ford Mustang that Laurel Williams was in at the time of the accident.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 23, 2008, 5:09 PM
Posted by unknown, a resident of San Ramon, on May 23, 2008 at 9:17 pm
I think the reporter got it wrong about Katie and the accident. She was NOT wearing a seatbelt and that irresponsibility ultimately killed Laurel.(along with her being almost three times over the legal limit) Katie flew through the passenger side window and broke Laurel's neck.
Posted by Get Smart Not MADD, a member of the Foothill High School community, on May 24, 2008 at 7:09 pm
As I said in another post, tragically a young life is ended, another, her best friend is spending her college years in prison, and nothing has changed here in Pleasanton when it comes to underage drinking. Yesterday, I spoke with a parent who had to break up a party at his house because high school kids showed up with cases and cases of beer. This occuring within weeks of the Every 15 Minutes program held at Foothill recently. Several weeks ago, another parent told me about a prominent athlete who was so intoxicated, his friends drew pictures on his face. What saddens me is that youngesters are dying every year and nothing changes. Teenage alcohol and drug use is seen as normal by many in this community. It is not legal, it is not normal and it should not be tolerated or encouraged. I would like to hear from parents of high schoolers - what are you doing to prevent your children from suffering the same fate as Laurel and Katie? What can we do as a community to prevent this from happening every year?
Posted by unknown, a resident of San Ramon, on May 24, 2008 at 9:04 pm
Nicely said, Get Smart. I think one piece of the puzzle is having parents be parents to their children and not trying to be their friend and letting them have parties at home to be the "cool parents". Just a thought.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 26, 2008 at 10:16 pm
Two lessons to be learned: 1) talk to your child about the dangers of drinking and driving - do something if your child has a drinking problem, AND 2) talk to your child about the dangers of hanging out with someone who has a drinking problem, make sure she knows NOT to get into a car when she is drunk and the driver is also drunk.
Both teenagers have some fault here - one will not get a chance to learn from her mistakes, and the other one will have to spend time in jail. Laurel's parents: I feel for you, and my prayers are with you, but you cannot blame everything on Katie. Your daughter was also drunk and got into a car with a drunk driver. Katie's parents should have done something after the June incident, but you should have too (not allowing your child to hang out with the wrong crowd is every parent's responsibility).
Posted by All Experts, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on May 27, 2008 at 11:15 am
It continues to astound me, the ignorance shown by those who in hindsight have all of the answers or suggestions about how to deal with raising kids. I find myself talking to the "smarter" parents who seem to have an answer for every situation, and claim thier son/daughter would "never" do something like this? Kids are soo much smarter and determined than any parent gives them credit for. In today's world they also have unprecidented access to resources (money, alcohol etc). Getting booze for kids is so simple its almost a joke!
The suggestion above is to teach/demand that your son/daughter not hang out with anyone who is doing anything questionable? That would eliminate 90% or maybe more of thier peers..... Talking to your child about the "dangers" of any situation is close to useless as anyone who has raised or is raising kids will tell you (just like when most of you were teenagers), kids know _everything_! Tell your daughters to stay away from the boy she is infatuated with and she will run to him with wreckless abandon!
Everyone wants a "solution" to the problem and wants it now! Unfortunately this is not a problem with an answer. If you can have an honest conversation with your kids you are lucky as most don't or won't share honestly with parents. Practically speaking you cannot lock up your kids in a closet so they aren't exposed to reality.
The best hope for a parent is to have solid understandable rules with painful enforcable sanctions if those rules are broken. Unfortunately I see the problem is that parents are so busy with thier own lives that it is painful to enforce sanctions such as taking the car away or locking up the computer, video games etc.... Kids today understand that most punishment ends up being a slap on the wrist and a request to stop the behavior, why do you think Katie drank and drove again? The punishment for the first offense wasn't severe enough?
God Bless both families in this impossible situation...
Posted by unknown, a resident of San Ramon, on May 27, 2008 at 1:11 pm
If you were at the sentencing hearing you would have known that Laurel's mom banned her from hanging out with Katie and actually asked Katie's parents to get her help after she hit the cop on Laurel's birthday. Please quit trying to blame Laurel, she can't defend herself. Maybe if Katie's parents would have been a little more involved they would have seen the obvious signs of her alcoholism. Obviously Laurel had fun with Katie and at the end of her life starting seeing her again without her mom's knowledge.(at first)I'm glad Katie is behind bars for her actions. Maybe she gets the help she needs inside prison.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 27, 2008 at 9:15 pm
No one is claiming to have all the answers. This can happen to anyone. But I don't think it's fair to blame Katie only. Both girls were at fault, and yes, unfortunately one is dead, so it is uncomfortable to talk about her choice. However, Lauren made a bad choice too (chose to continue to be friends with Katie even though Katie had a problem with alcohol, chose to get drunk and then get in the car with Katie, a drunk driver).
If Katie had died, would all of you be blaming her? Katie is very lucky to be alive, and she will go to jail to learn a lesson and pay for her mistake. Lauren unfortunately, paid for her mistakes/choices with her life.
Both teenagers made bad choices here, and it is highly unfair to blame Katie only. Please be objective.
Posted by chris, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on May 28, 2008 at 9:35 am
To Unknown.....You say that maybe if Katie's parents had been a little more involved they would have seen the signs of her alcholism..I'm sorry but Laurel too had a serious drinking problem, does that mean that her parents weren't involved? I don't think it would have mattered who Laurel was hanging out with, Laurel also drank in a very alcholic way and so they both had a problem....these are the facts. Laurel was not in her right mind that morning and could have gotten into the car with anyone.....they both chose to drink to get obliterated and both paying for their choices.
Posted by chris, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on May 29, 2008 at 8:37 am
Cholo, sometimes I agree with you and hear you. but you are missing my point on this one....but that's o.k....oh, and she is going to a women's facility, get it......no need to wish bad things to happen to her in there i am sure they will, and that is not o.k. either....resentments and hatred only feeds resentments and hatred....god bless to all..
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 29, 2008 at 9:22 pm
PW staff: I am surprised you have not made the decision to NOT POST any of Cholo's comments. I have read his comments in many threads, and they are simply unacceptable... and since he does not even live in P-town, please consider moderating the threads and delete messages like the one Cholo just posted (who needs to read that kind of garbage?)
Posted by Bridget, a resident of Dublin, on May 29, 2008 at 11:37 pm
My heart just absolutely breaks for Laurel's family. Just breaks. After recently reading items in the news and viewing things on TV about DUI, I am DISGUSTED at how we treat drunk driving in this country. If we walked into a Safeway with a loaded shotgun we would be thrown behind bars for a long time. But first-time DUI offenders are slapped on the wrist. Cars are lethal weapons, too. Parents must talk to their kids at an EARLY age about the true and selfish crime that is drunk driving. Drinking to the point of being drunk anyway is NOT glamorous. It's irresponsible and our culture needs to fundamentally change. I have friends who will still admit to driving after "a few" drinks and I just want to strangle them. Don't be bashful - call your friends and family out on this crime. Let them know how horrific it is. Our society needs to look down on this crime. Guilt and shame are sometimes very good things.
Posted by Chris, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on May 30, 2008 at 8:44 am
Bridget - you made a good point. We live in a society where was still "want" to be able to have a few drinks and then drive. Oprah recently had a show that focused on this exact topic, if you go to Grim Realities on Myspace there is a video and it is real. The family was on Oprah. A drunk driver was going in the wrong direction at 75 miles per hour for 2 miles! and slammed into a family in a limo on their way home from a family wedding. The limo driver was killed, a little girl Katie, her head was severed from the impact and Katies mom held her little girls head for an hour on the side of the road....And this family talked about just that as did Opraph we still want to be able to have a few and drive....It is never going to work. One drive, NO DRIVING, plan your partying, if you are going to be drinking, no matter the age, plan your rides, call a taxi, make those plans first. I urge anyone who has not seen the Grimrealities video to find it on MYspace or you can google it to get there. It is real and extremely graphic and worthY showing to youngsters, this is what one drink, 7 drinks, any drinks does when you drive.......God bless to all.
Posted by Tough mom, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on May 31, 2008 at 1:17 am
And to add on to Chris' comments---not every one hit by a drunk driver is killed. We have heard very little about the older woman that Katie hit but she suffered serious injuries and that has probably been very difficult for her. Take a look at this public service ad and ask how Katie would feel had she left her friend in this condition? Web Link
Be sure and share this with others as I share this type of info with my own teen drivers. I also stay up until they are home (by midnight) and I make sure to talk with them and give them a hug when they come in. This follows the early years of setting clear boundaries and consequences for violations. It has required me to be a parent not a buddy. Do these things guarantee their safety? Of course not. But at least I have done the best I could to prepare them to handle situations.
Posted by Chris, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2008 at 9:10 am
I was watching the 10:00 news last night, Laurel William's mother Kathy was at Amador Valley High School for a forum for parents and students on the wreckage of drinking and driving - only 13 people showed up, they showed it on the news and they showed Laurel's picture and Kathy spoke and you could see the devastation in her. My sadness came that so little showed up. No, I didn't go, I am a part of this community but I don't drink and drive and my chilren are grown and know the consequences. It was just disappointing to see so few parents and teens there, they were all probably getting ready for grad night, God and smarts be with them.......If I got my facts wrong I am open to stand corrected.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2008 at 5:18 pm
I am a part of this community too and I did not go. My kids are younger, and I disagree with some of the parents out there that state it is impossible to guide your children and show them how to make good choices and pick the right friends. While nothing is a guarantee, I do believe that the two teenagers involved made very poor choices, and their parents either chose to ignore the situation or were not able to control their kids' behaviors (I do not know which since I do not know the families). Being an outsider looking in, I would have made more of an effort to make sure Laurel did not hang out with Katie anymore. If I had been Katie's parents, I would have made sure she got the help she needed. Having read the comments by Laurel's family and friends, I would not want to attend a meeting led by them. Laurel was just as guilty in all this as Katie, yet some friends and family (at least in the blogs and articles) seem to blame Katie only - what kind of meeting could they offer? Yes, I am sad for them and I feel for them, but the lesson to be learned is: do not behave like Katie, but also, realize that Laurel's behavior was absolutely wrong and both teenagers are at fault for what happened.
Teen drinking could become costly - for Saratoga parents
Underage drinking code would create $500 fine
By Brian Babcock
Los Gatos Weekly-Times
Article Launched: 06/04/2008 11:09:14 AM PDT
The Saratoga City Council has moved forward with updating the city's current code on underage drinking to send parents a clear message that alcohol use by teenagers is not allowed in the city, said Mayor Ann Waltonsmith.
"We think some parents don't see how dangerous allowing their kids to have parties and have underage drinking is," Waltonsmith said. "Most do, but there is a small minority who don't see how dangerous it is."
The new ordinance would update the city's old code and bring the wording in line with other cities in Santa Clara County, including Los Gatos and Monte Sereno.
Saratoga's current code states that parents are responsible for supervising their underage children if they are drinking alcohol and prohibits social gatherings with underage drinking and no parental supervision. It also states that the city can recover any costs associated with a second police response to a disturbance where underage children are drinking.
The new ordinance would keep the current provisions, but adds that if police go to a disturbance a second time, even if they are not called out to it, the city can recover the cost of the officers' time, said Saratoga city attorney Richard Taylor.
The fine could cost parents a minimum of $500, said city manager Dave Anderson at the council's May 21 meeting.
"So now they won't have our city to say, 'Hey, we'll go party there because their fines are less,' " said Vice Mayor Chuck Page at the meeting.
"It gives the ordinance teeth and lets people know what to expect," said L.D. Hirschklau, projects director for the Shift Coalition, a local group that educates the community on underage drinking.
Teenagers have a huge misconception of alcohol use, Hirschklau said. According to the coalition's data, 88 percent of teenagers in Saratoga and Los Gatos think the typical student attends a party with alcohol, yet only 35 percent admitted attending a party where there was teenage drinking.
Those who don't drink are the silent majority, Hirschklau said.
"Nobody comes in on Monday and says, 'Whoa, I'm sober,' " she said.
Teenagers need to realize that if they are not ready to drink alcohol, they don't have to, and that not drinking doesn't make them a dork, Hirschklau said. Teenagers who start drinking at an early age usually have alcohol abuse problems as adults, she said.
Councilwoman Jill Hunter added that underage drinking has been an ongoing struggle between parents and teenagers for years.
"As a mother of four boys I must say that I have sympathy for this because I went through it in the '80s," she said. "I know that this is a very difficult situation with kids. Sometime parents think this is a unique thing, but it's been going on for years and years."
Alcohol use is just one way that teenagers try to push limits, said Waltonsmith. The problem is that if teenagers drink at parties they may be getting in cars and driving, which then creates a danger to the greater community, she added.
Teenage drinking "is a minor, but deadly problem in every city," Waltonsmith said.