|Michael's drowning happened on June 7,2005, no arrests were made until six weeks later. Why did it take so long?
When I received the call that Michael was being transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola via Lifeflight, my
first thought was that he had been caught in the current and could not make his way to shore. When I arrived at the
hospital, Michael was in the Pediatriac ICU on life support equipment. The medical staff could not understand why he
was not as responsive as he should be. When asked by the doctor and nurse on duty if alcohol was involved,one of
the involved parties answered "no." This was a life or death situation. A nurse told me that they would have
medically treated Michael differently if they knew that there was alcohol involved. When the blood alcohol test came
back at 0.32, then the answer was that Michael had left with a friend that they may have drinking. The people involved
showed up at the hospital as my son fought for his life in the ICU . They were all employees of the Four Points
Sheraton on Okaloosa Island near Fort Walton Beach. They went downstairs to work out their story. They agreed to
say that Michael left with a friend and they did not know if alcohol was involved or not.
I contacted the Sheriff's Department, but a investigator was not assigned to the case. A Deputy that had his normal
duties in addition to this case was handling the investigation. He did not have much time to dedicate to this case. I
contacted Children and Family Services and was told that they could not do anything because it was a criminal
investigation. June turned into July, still no progress.
Over the next month, thanks to the tips of some really good people, I began to learn the truth about the events of the
day. I had the names of a couple of people that were involved. As I obtained the information, I would write down the
facts and drop it off at the Sheriff's Department before I would make my daily trek to Sacred Heart Hospital to see my
son. Still nothing was happening. By now, my frustration level had peaked. Michael was lying in the Rehabilitation
Unit and nobody was doing anything to find the truth. One Thursday morning, I was about to go to Atlanta to be with
Michael when I decided that it was time for things to happen.
I contacted the Northwest Florida Daily News , started this website, contacted Sheriff Charlie Morris' office, contacted
the State Attorney's office, and Children and Family services (again) seeking help. The next day, an investigator from
the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department called me in Atlanta to tell me he was assigned to Michael's case. Within a
few days, arrests were made.
If I did not take the steps that I took, this case would still be open. It was given a low priority and that was
unacceptable to me. I made it as public as I could. I would not allow it to swept under the rug. As far as anyone knew,
it was just a teenage boy that had a near drowning. Difference was the truth was not being told. Two months of trying
to be there for my son and trying to find the truth. Ridiculous. Be heard, people, stir the pot, poke that hornets nest.
If you wait on justice, it ain't going to happen.
A 19 year old bartender employed by the Four Points Sheraton brought the beer to the beach that day and the vodka
was furnished by a 16-year-old high school student, also an employee of the Sheraton. They hired attorneys and tried
to deny any accountability for their actions. They were both adjudicated guilty for their part in this. The other
16-year-old stood up and took his punishment; hopefully he learned from this.
Michael drank the alcohol. I'm sure that he was not forced to do it. Peer pressure is a powerful thing. No matter what
you try to teach your child, they will make mistakes. Michael made his. However, if the alcohol was not provided, he
could not have drank it. Michael's birthday is March 26th, this incident happened on June 7th, he was barely 14 years
old. Laws are made for a reason. In this case, the laws were supposed to protect our children. The laws were broken
and now people must pay. There was another 19 year old and a 20 year old female at the beach with the minors that
day. Guess where they worked, that's right, the Four Points Sheraton. Why they were hanging around two 16 year olds
and a 14 year old, I have no idea. Talk about peer pressure; hanging with older women. Wonder why the other two
adults didn't try to stop the minors from drinking? You would think with three adults there, one of them would have
had the sense to put an end to the party. I wonder if there is a law covering this? It seems if you see the law is being
broken, you should do something about it. I guess common sense is not a law.
The people involved in this did not come forward voluntarily, the stayed silent and lived their lives as if nothing
happened for six weeks. They did not care about Michael or what they had done to our lives. During the trials, not one
of them showed remorse. If they had came forward with the truth in the beginning, I would have had understanding
and compassion; they chose not to.
I have been called a bully and a screaming victim for standing up for Michael. I have dealt with the insensitivity and
cowardness of people that have left comments on this site. I have never backed down and have stood my ground
throughout this. What parent would not fight for their child?