The driver of the other vehicle, Lisa Sanders, was found on the scene with a beer bottle cradled between her legs, many other empty containers and an open bottle of codeine pills spilled onto the seat. The extent of her injuries - a skinned knee.
Sanders' car, during the collision, glided over the top of Callie's hood and then slid off the drivers side of the car, an '87 Plymouth Sundance. At some point during the collision, the front bumper of Sander's vehicle hit the left side of Callie's head. Callie was clinically dead when the paramedics arrived on the scene. After reviving her, which took seven charges from the electric paddles, they transported her to Vicksburg Medical Center.
Callie's mother, my wife, Delaine, was contacted and told about the accident, though not of the extent of Callie's injuries, and where she had been transported.
While waiting at the hospital to be informed of Callie's condition, Delaine came into contact with Lisa Sanders, though she did not know who she was at the time. Sanders was heard complaining that Callie was recieving medical attention and she was not. Also heard from Sanders was the statement, "God, just bandage this thing (her knee) so I can get a cigarette and another beer."
As I was arriving home from work to find a note on the door informing me of Callie's accident, Callie was transported to Mississippi Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Upon her arrival the neurologist, Dr. Hunt Bobo, examined her. Dr. Bobo informed the family, most of whom had gathered at Baptist, that Callie had recieved, in his opinion, a fatal brain injury and that he believed that she would not live through the night. Shortly after he made the statement, arrangements were made to transfer Callie to the Intensive Care Unit to live out her final hours.
About ten minutes before Callie was moved I arrived at the hospital and was given the dreadful news. I was not prepared for the first time we were able to visit Callie in the ICU, who could have been. Delaine and I shared tears and prayed that God would see our precious baby through.
Callie made it through the first night and seven more, much to the amazement of all her doctors.
On the seventh night, Monday, March 23, Dr. Bobo told us that the brain swelling had gotten too severe. Our choices were simple, our Callie would never awaken from the coma she had been in since the time of her revival by the paramedics in Vicksburg one week earlier. We could either let her live on, connected to machines, or we could agree to turn the life support off and await her death.
We gathered the family in order to discuss the decision which was to be made. We decided, unanimously, to turn off the life support and also to agree to organ donation.
The arrangements were made and afterwards the entire family went in to see their beloved Callie for the last time. After visits were all over, all the family and friends made their way to their individual homes. Delaine and I remained at the hospital to be with Callie during her last hours.
Sometime during the night, Callie passed from this world to the next. The machines were turned back on to allow time for the organs to be harvested and prepared for transplants. The official word came from Dr. Bobo, for whom, we have the utmost respect and admiration - he never misled us - he was always straightforward and honest in his grim prognosis, at 7:55 AM Tuesday, March 24, 1998.
Arrangements were made to inter our baby in the cemetery next to her great-grandfather, in the exact spot she picked for herself.
Callie was dressed in her ROTC uniform and laid to rest with many items from friends and family which were laid in the casket during her wake. The funeral procession spanned 257 cars over the twenty-seven mile trek from the funeral home to the cemetery. That, to me is the most powerful testimony that can be given to her life.
As for the woman who killed our baby, Sanders pled guilty to the charge of DUI Manslaughter on August 24, 1998. Sanders, who had been out on bail pending sentencing, was arrested for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct in the early morning hours of September 4, 1998. She was sentenced on September 18, 1998 by Judge Isadore Patrick. Judge Patrick sentenced Sanders to the maximum penalty of 25 years. There were some stipulations though. Ten years were suspended from the sentence, therefore Sanders would only serve fifteen years, but after her release she would be subject to a five year (extremely strict) probationary period, during which, if she crossed the law in any manner, including testing positive for the use of alcohol or drugs, she would immediately be returned to the prison, at the discretion of the parole/probation officer to serve the FULL ten years which were suspended. That means if she tested positive for alcohol usage 4 years, 11 months, and 28 days after her release, she would go back to jail and serve 10 MORE YEARS! This sentence is more than we expected and we are more than happy with Judge Patrick's wise decision.
Callie was involved in innumerable activities during her life. Among them, she served as President of the Vicksburg youth chapter of the American Red Cross, a star pupil in the Joan Leese Piano Studio (Ms. Joan has named a scholarship award for Callie to be awarded to the student who most possesses the qualities most similar to Callie's - "a desire to learn, a commitment to work and a continuing progress in performance."), a devoted member of the Vicksburg Theatre Guild, where she worked backstage and appeared in the production of "Annie" and during her stay in the hospital, the group of people she held closest to her heart, the ROTC program at Vicksburg High promoted her to the rank of Cadet Captain.
As is testified to by the numerous letters written by friends and family to the court giving opinions about Sanders' sentence and by the people who's lives have been forever changed due to Callie's organ donation, Callie Michele McCraw will live on for many years to come, in our hearts, in our minds and in our bodies.
One final note here: There are three people I credit for making Callie the glorious person I am proud to call my daughter: Her "Mommie", Delaine, who raised Callie alone for the first 15 years of her life and provided the ultimate role model. Her "Grammy", Hattie Mae Cox, who taught Callie more than we will ever know. And lastly, Callie's mentor, Sergeant Major James O. Bowman. The Sergeant Major, who is also an ordained minister, is one of the greatest people it has ever been my pleasure to know.