This week marks the observance of National Crime Victims Week, first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. The annual commemoration promotes victims' rights. NewsChannel 11 sits down with a Slaton crime victim who is getting victim's assistance to move past her tragedy.
"You can't help but wonder what if I'd have left ten minutes later," says Kaye Smith.
On September 16, 2002: Kaye Smith and three friends were returning from a long weekend in Ruidoso, New Mexico. "On the way home we had an accident," reveals Kaye. The driver of another car was passing a truck in a no-passing construction zone and collided with Kaye's car, killing two of her friends. "The two ladies that died were my mother's dearest friends for many years so that has taken a lot of emotional toll on me, that two women that I adored died," she says.
The man who hit Kaye was later convicted on two counts of negligent homicide and two counts of bodily injury. He's facing a 15 year prison sentence. "The man that hit us committed a crime, he was driving negligently," she points out.
Kaye was lucky to survive the accident but suffered severe injuries to her left shoulder and both legs. "It was not even determined then whether I would walk," she recalls.
Four months in the hospital and almost three years of physical therapy later, Kaye still struggles. "The pain is always there and I guess it's a reminder to me of what I do have to be thankful for," she explains.
Though the accident devastated Kaye both financially and emotionally, she refuses to see herself as a victim. "I honestly believe that if you can't go through life laughing, it's just a long life crying," says Kaye.
Kaye has received tremendous financial support from our local crime victim's fund, helping pay for medical costs. If you are a crime victim, you are encouraged to contact the Texas Department of Public Safety at (806) 472-2818 and ask for help.
Lubbock Memorial Commemorates Crime Victims & Their Families