Young drunk driving victim prepared to forgive - FOX 8, WVUE,, weather, app, news, saints

Young drunk driving victim prepared to forgive

Ashlee and her mom, Karen. (FOX 8 Photo) Ashlee and her mom, Karen. (FOX 8 Photo)

Left disabled by a drunk driver eight years ago, Ashlee Stokes is ready to forgive as he driver is about to go before a parole board. Stokes and her family say the driver, should go free.

"Ashlee had dreams and ambitions to go out there and do something with her life. She was a model student," said Karen Stokes, Ashlee's mother.

Stokes, who in 2008 was a 15-year-old cheerleader for Northshore High, was hit by a drunk driver and almost killed.

"I really couldn't believe that I was about to lose my daughter," Karen said.

The driver, 24-year-old Callan Gill of Bush, had an empty bottle of vodka in her car and received a 10-year prison sentence.

"She messed up. She's taken away Ashlee's life. Her life will never be the same," Karen said.

Next week Gill will go before the parole board seeking relief.

"I know nobody gets better in jail. We will be there to speak on her behalf, and like Ashlee says, we want her to learn from this," said David Stokes, Ashlee's father.

The Stokes' message of forgiveness is grounded in their religion and their belief that life is too short.

"If anyone thinks about what's important in life, it's nothing but love. How does anyone win with her staying in jail?" said David.

It was an event that changed Ashlee and her family's lives forever, but they are ready to move on.

"As far as forgiveness, I forgave her a long time ago," Karen said.

Ashlee, now 23, remains active, trying to use what happened to her as a teaching tool for hundreds of high school students.

"This girl is all about making a difference with her story. She's expressed that from the beginning," David said.

The Stokes, would like to see Gill participate in the drunk driving awareness program called Sudden Impact if she's released early.

"We would love for her to put her time in prevention, and share her story, just like Ashlee is doing," David said.

But they are not making any demands.

"If anyone disagrees with our position, it doesn't matter to me," said David.

All that matters is the life they almost lost and a message they hope will spare others. Ashlee and her family will take part in a Sudden Impact drunk driving awareness program at University Medical Center on Thursday.

Gill's parole hearing is set for March 11.

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