Press Statement from Chris Gatz (Victim's father)

May 16, 2007

In the name of the Gatz family, I thank the community for your continued prayers and support during this tragic time in our lives. The magnitude of support has been overwhelming to us and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Our Christian faith has guided us during this difficult time, and without our family, friends, and God in our lives we would have been lost.

We also thank the prosecuting attorney, Mr. Keith Henderson, and his staff for taking the time to review and explain the legal procedures that were so unfamiliar to us.

It is a sad statistic that over 16,000 people in the United States lose their lives every year due to alcohol related accidents. This equates to approximately one person killed every 30 minutes. We never expected in a million years that something like this would happen to our family. John did not drink alcohol, but sadly was on the receiving end of an alcohol related crash. He had a good balance in life and was an excellent student, athlete, actor, servant to God, Eagle Scout, and beloved son and brother. there is nothing we would change in our relationship with John other than that last couple of seconds of his life.

Because of John's death, our family has taken as a mission statement to spread the news about the dangers that can result from underage drinking and drunk driving. The destructive decisions that one makes may not only affect them, but those around them as well. We strongly encourage parents to educate their underage children not to consume alcohol and to take an active role in parenting their kids to make responsible decisions.

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 we believe 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 woman who is responsible and caring. It is very sad to see 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. To see our son's life wasted prematurely is painful enough, but to see another young life wasted is equally senseless.

Paige hopefully will realize that she is given a second chance to become the person 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.

In conclusion, again we thank the community for your continuing prayers for the Barnes, Grable and Gatz families as we all seek healing during this difficult time.


The Gatz family