|What my husband and I went through on June 18,1994 is something that no parent should ever have to experience. It is every parent's nightmare. My husband had to tell me as I lay waiting for surgery that our beautiful daughter Mandy (Amanda Nicole Trantham) was dead. How can I begin to describe the overwhelming pain that is now our daily companion, and at times threatens to consume us ? How can I describe a big strong man standing 6 feet 4 inches suddenly looking shattered and small ? Our family is devastated. The shock and horror of losing Mandy has rolled over us like a freight train, leaving wounds that will never heal. We will never be the same. It is unbelievable that she could be taken from us so quickly, gone forever in the twinkling of an eye , because one man chose to drink, and then drive something with the power to kill. Each day we have to live without her we feel cheated- never being able to touch her, see her, hear her talk or laugh again - this was stolen from us. It is foolish to think that in this brief time and with mere words, that I can capture the essence of Mandy, or make you fully understand the magnitude of our loss. She was a gift from God, a vital part of our family. Memories of her flood our minds.Mandy was the sunshine on a rainy day. Her smile lit up our lives. She was a beautiful child with long blond hair, bright blue eyes and rosy cheeks. She was so vibrant, so alive, and constantly bounced around talking to anyone, or anything. She loved to sing and dance. Our home is so quiet now. Mandy was a very loving child, always in your lap bestowing upon us her precious hugs and kisses. She had just begun her life when it was so cruelly snatched away.
She would have been 5 years old on July 21,1994. Instead of spending the day with cake, ice cream, and balloons, our family spent it at the cemetary. Instead of a new doll, or clothes, her present was a cold gray headstone that was delivered the day before. In a flash, my mind carried me to another birthday with a sweet cake- smeared face and brightly wrapped presents. I felt that "Happy Birthday " must surely be the saddest song I'd ever heard. She would have started school that fall. She was so excited. We'd gone shopping for school clothes the day before her short life ended. Due to the reckless, careless actions of the offender, she will never go to her first day of kindergarten. She will never go to her prom, graduate, or walk down the aisle of a church on her Daddy's arm. We will never see her grow into the beautiful woman she would have been. Our dreams have been cruelly and senselessly taken away from us. Our dreams of watching her become everything she could be, and of one day holding her children in our arms are gone forever. Even more heartbreaking than this, is to think about the pain and terror she must have felt in that split second in which she was hit. Our son Christopher was devastated as well by the violent death of his baby sister. He was robbed of his childlike innocence. On that fateful day he lost his childhood sense of invincibility. It was turned into a more mature sense of reality, and a less juvenile knowledge of this world and it's dangers - in this case drinking and driving. 9 years old is such a tender age to have learned that lesson. He saw things that day that no young child should ever have to witness. He has felt grief, confusion, hatred , and guilt-- feelings he shouldn't have had to cope with at the age of 9 years old. My children will never experience their lives together. this has been forever denied to Christopher., Our family is dying inside because we have lost something more precious to us than our own lives. We're angry too!! Our daughter didn't die "by accident". Her life was ripped away from her, from us, by one man's concious choice to drink, and then drive a boat.There is a vast emptiness in our lives that only Mandy can fill. It is the first thing we think of when we wake up, and the last thing we think of at night. The loss, the realization that Mandy will never come bouncing through the door and give us hugs and say the words we long to hear -- "I love you Mommy and Daddy". I cannot imagine anything worse than standing over my child's grave and remembering all of those nights she was so afraid of the dark that she asked me to protect her. Now I leave her alone in the dark, cold ground- I have no choice but to walk away.I must now shift my attention to the young man that did this..This man ignored my family's please for help after the crash. He was busy sinking his beer cans,while my daughter floated in the water within his arm's reach with her precious life slipping away. He made no attempt whatsoever, to save her. My badly injured husband jumped into the water to get her. It was our belief that the offender should be held accountable for his actions. There is no sentence that could be imposed that would balance the scales of justice. Mandy cannot be returned to us. It was,, in our opinion, essential that the offender be required to serve the maximum time allowed by law for his crime. This he needed for his own good, and our family needed it as a statement that human life is sacred. However, the offender was sentenced to 7 years, of which he served only 3. This is an obsenity, proof that the guilty do not pay in our justice system, while the innocent pay the ultimate price.