Court Statement from Kathy Gatz (Victim's Mother)

Your honor, today as we gather in this court room, my only thought is that no one is a winner in this case. We have all lost. We have all lost, because Paige Grable chose to make several destructive decisions without regards to the consequences of her actions. I am 100% positive that John did not wake on Saturday October, 14, 2006 thinking it was the day he would die. However, it is a day that Paige Grable decided to drink and then to drive while drunk. Paige will now be held accountable for her unwise decisions that will result in her losing her freedom for a period of time and living with a felony on her record.

We have lost our son John. John was 6'-2" when he died, but he was still our little boy who was maturing into a fine young man. John had many accomplishments this past year. He came in 6th in the Louisville district Math League competition, he had three roles in the Providence High School spring musical of CATS, last season as a sophomore he had placed well in the swimming sectionals in the backstroke and individual medley, he was Junior class escort for the Homecoming Fall Court at Providence, and he had just completed his project requirements for his Boy Scout Eagle rank. John was also ranked in the top 10 of his junior class at Providence and had plans on attending pharmacy school at Butler or Purdue.

Most importantly our family has a huge hole in our hearts, because we no longer have John.

That Saturday afternoon of October 14, 2006, John was with his friend Sarah Barnes working on a photography assignment for Project Excel and taking pictures in Floyd Knobs. The theme of Project Excel this year was RISK. Little did John or we realize that he was at risk. The last digital picture taken by John was recorded on Saturday October 14, 2006 with a time stamp of 5:18 pm - never in a million years would we dream that our son would be killed by a drunk driver 12 minutes later at 5:30 pm on a beautiful, bright sunny afternoon.

John was always respectful of others. John always followed the rules to the letter of the law and was well respected by many of his peers and adults alike for being level-headed and fair. Our son was on the shy side, but once you got to know him, he had quite a sense of humor. Once you got to know him, he would be very opinionated about what he thought.

Today I think John would be very vocal. He would talk about the fact that Paige thought of no one else but herself that day. He would categorize her as a bully, because she did what she wanted to do with reckless abandon. He would call her poor choices that day, a senseless act of self-defiance without thinking of the consequences of her actions.

There is an emptiness, loneliness and realization that our lives will never be the same again. The sun will come up again for us, but it will never come up again for the real victim of this tragedy. It is our wish that no one ever again would have to go through a tragedy like ours. We hope John did not die in vain, but that the message regarding underage drinking and driving drunk, no matter what age, will cause at least one person in our society to use sound judgement. If we can save at least one life, then our message to the community is well worth the effort.

No matter how much time Paige serves in prison, it will not bring back our John. Our hope now, and it is our opinion that this would be John's wish as well, is that Paige will serve her time in prison, and afterwards attend college, graduate, and become a productive citizen who is helpful, respectful, responsible, and caring. It is very sad to have John's young life - with a lot of potential - cut short, and it would be a shame to see Paige not fulfill her potential as well. Paige hopefully will realize that she is given a second chance to become the woman she is meant to be. However, our son John will not receive a second chance nor receive any further honors, nor recognition he deserves for doing the right thing.

Thank you Your Honor