A Tribute To Chris Shackleford
Events and Actions in the Murder of My Son
Christopher was a graduate of Woodstock High School in Woodstock, Georgia and attending Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia where he was majoring in Film. He was an aspiring young actor with ambitions for the movies. Chris had performed in several plays and had been an active member of the Atlanta Workshop Players and performed with the Georgia Renaissance Festival. He was working on a film for an independent producer in Los Angeles, California.
On July 29, 2000, after 1:00a.m, my wonderful son died in Marietta, Georgia. He, along with three friends were on their way to watch movies at a friend's home when a drunk driver crossed the center line and smashed into my son's car. Chris, 19, died instantly, his friend Julieanne Pascoe, 18, died within a few minutes. Another passenger and close friend to my family, Miechelle "Kelli" Bourgeois, 19, died the following Wednesday in Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. All three of these wonderful people are buried beside each other at Rolling Hills Gardens Cemetery in Acworth, Georgia. Mathew Hunt, 24, future husband of Keli was injured very badly and is in a rehabilitation hospital where he faces many months, if not years, of extensive therapy.
The driver of the car that had hit my son was 20 and had been drinking underage in a local bar. He got into a fight in the bar and was kicked out and set loose on the road in a drunken rage. Before he got out of the parking lot he hit several cars and ran over a pedestrian, seriously injuring him. This individual had an expired green card, spoke no English, and had been arrested for drunken driving previously.
We live in a flawed society that will allow these type of people to be on the road to kill and mame our loved ones. In the name of Chris, Kelli, and Julie, my wife Cindy and I, along with the other parents and friends, have made it our mission to prevent this sort of stupidity from happening again, though sadly, it will. Please visit my Home Page and click on the Memorial to Chris. Go to STOP. Inc., and see what you can do to help.
In honor to my Beloved Son, Chris
From the events of this tradgedy, a new organization has been created that is committed to ending drunk driving. S.T.O.P. Inc. (Saving the Other Person) has started its campaign for
tougher laws, stopping underage drinking, and education. To learn more visit their site at: http://www.stopdd.org
S.T.O.P., Inc. is dedicated to the memory of
Christopher Shackleford, Julieanne Pascoe,
Miechelle Bourgeois, and the many other victims who
have touched our lives.
Read at Chris' Funeral Services on July 31
I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: I said in my haste, All men are liars. What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people. In the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord.
Psalms 116 (KJV)
A Tribute by His Friends
Chris L. Shackleford died at 1:15am, Saturday, July 29, 2000, in a car accident caused by a drunk driver on Sandtown Road in Cobb County, which is just northwest of Atlanta, Georgia. He was 19 years old. Julieanne Pascoe, 18, a friend of Chris', also died shortly after the accident in a local hospital.
Matthew Hunt, 24, and Michelle "Kelli" Bourgeois, 19, were both severely injured.
Kelli died late Wednesday night from injuries sustained in the accident. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran this article about Kelli, Matt, and some more details on the accident, on Thursday morning.
Tests found that the drunk driver, who is 20 years old, had a blood-alcohol level of .178 just after the crash, which is more than double the legal limit in Georgia (.08). He did not have a valid drivers license or insurance. The AJC printed this on Wednesday, August 2nd. He has been charged with three counts of vehicular homicide, DUI, assault, and several other charges, which are detailed in this article published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. On August 25, the Cobb County police department charged a waitress that served the drunk driver.
Chris was a friend of many, and was a very active member of the online community, in many different chat systems and message boards. Since many of us first met Chris online, we felt that an online tribute was needed. This site was named 'filmboy18.com' in honor of one of the nicknames that Chris used in the chat rooms, because of his love for film and movies. Chris was a freshman at Georgia State University, majoring in film studies. He was also a very talented writer, and enjoyed sharing his works with others.
Chris was working on a feature-length movie script, and was almost finished when the accident occurred. His friends and his family are committed to seeing the movie produced. Efforts will begin soon to make this happen. We will share the details on this website when we have them. If you have the knowledge or resources to help with this endeavor, please let us know by emailing:firstname.lastname@example.org
Christopher Shackleford Memorial Site
Friends of my son started a Memorial Site for him not long after his murder and it is still maintained by them to this day. My gratitude to them goes beyond words and has given me a way that I can still visit him. I wish all who see this would also visit him and tell him so. He IS a remarkable young man.http://www.filmboy18.com
During a typical weekend, an average of one teenager dies each hour in a car crash in the United States. Nearly fifty percent of those crashes involved alcohol (NHTSA, 1999). That's one every two hours. This has to stop. We can make a difference, if we just speak out. If you do drink, make sure you have a designated driver, or take a taxi. If one of your friends is about to drive after drinking, take his or her keys. Hide them. Do anything to keep him or her out of that car. Another way you can help is by supporting Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. You can donate to the Georgia Chapter online.
ATLANTA JOURNAL CONTSITUTION
VIGIL REMEMBERS THREE TEENS
YOLANDA RODRIGUEZ - STAFF
Monday, October 30, 2000
It's been three months since a drunken driving accident in Marietta took the lives of three teenagers. But the passage of days and weeks has not healed the pain for those who lit candles during a vigil Sunday night, vowing to stop drunken drivers. "I just miss having her around," said Dawn Pascoe, mother of Julieanne Pascoe, 18, one of the teens who died July 29 on Sandtown Road.
The vigil was held in the parking lot of the Masonic lodge. It was just a few steps from the scene where Sergio Montelongo-Sanchez, who had been thrown out of the Dos Naciones bar for fighting, allegedly crashed his Lincoln Continental into a Honda Civic, killing Pascoe and Christopher Shackleford, 19, the driver. A third teenager Miechelle "Kelli" Bourgeois, 19, died a few days later. Montelongo-Sanchez was charged with their deaths. He is being held in the Cobb County jail.
The accident spurred the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Georgia to begin deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants who are caught driving drunk. The policy has affected mostly Mexicans and Central Americans in Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties. So far, proceedings against 64 people have been started.
In their grief over the teens' deaths, their friends started an organization, STOP Drunk Driving (Save The Other Person), in an effort to get people to behave responsibly when it comes to consuming alcohol. During the vigil, they handed out copies of a resolution asking people to stop DUIs before they happen. The pledge can also be made online at the group's Web site.
Although their children were killed by a Hispanic man, the families stressed that their efforts were not meant to single out any ethnic group. "We need to fix the problem," said Deborah Dahlmann, Bourgeois' mother, said before the vigil. "We don't need to throw blame around . . . I want to go into Hispanic establishments and I want them to be able to say, 'We don't condone what happened, either.' "
Cindy Shackleford, Christopher's mother, said the group faces a language barrier because none of the members speaks Spanish. So far the resolution is available only in English but they hope to get it translated, she said.
LAW AND ORDER
From staff and wire reports
Friday, November 3, 2000
DRIVER INDICTED IN THREE DEATHS
A Cobb County grand jury has indicted a driver on three counts of vehicular homicide in an accident that killed three teenagers on Sandtown Road. According to prosecutors, Sergio Montelongo-Sanchez was driving drunk after being thrown out of the Dos Naciones bar in Marietta on July 29. He allegedly hit and injured a pedestrian in the bar's parking lot before speeding away. He then crashed his southbound car into a northbound Honda Civic. Three teenagers died after the crash.
The 22-count indictment was presented Thursday to Superior Court Judge Watson White. District Attorney Pat Head said the charges also include DUI, serious injury by vehicle and aggravated assault. No court date has been set for an arraignment. Montelongo-Sanchez is being held in the Cobb County Jail.
The waitress accused of serving alcohol to Montelongo-Sanchez, who was 20 at the time of the accident, has asked for a trial. Leydi Mendoza faces a misdemeanor charge of serving alcohol to an underage person. Her lawyer, William M. Clark, said a nonjury trial has been set for Dec. 13.
Photo of Cindy Shackleford at Hearinghttp://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/ftm/s/h/a/Kendrick-W-Shackleford/PHOTO/0046photo.html
INS STARTS DEPORTING ILLEGALS IN DUI CASES
Tough policy by local office draws criticism from some as unfair and insensitive.
Craig Schneider - Staff
Sunday, October 29, 2000
Should an illegal immigrant who drives drunk be treated any differently than a U.S. citizen caught for DUI?
The Immigration and Naturalization Service in Atlanta now says yes --- and it has started deportation proceedings against 64 illegal immigrants caught driving drunk.
But advocates for immigrants in metro Atlanta think that's unfair.
The deportations began this summer, after Bart Szafnicki, an INS assistant district director, read about three teenagers killed by an alleged drunken driver. Szafnicki thought about his own three teens, and when he learned the suspect was an illegal immigrant, he pressed for a DUI crackdown that touched off the deportation proceedings, mainly affecting Mexicans and Central Americans in Cobb, Gwinnett and DeKalb counties. "I thought about how I would feel if it was my child, " said Szafnicki, who lives in Gwinnett County. "Anyone who is arrested for DUI who is an illegal alien needs to go home." Why treat immigrants differently on DUI? "The native-born population in the U.S. has largely recognized the problem with DUI," Szafnicki said. "But with the new influx of immigrants, I just don't think the word has filtered down."
Teodoro Maus, Mexico's consul general in Atlanta, criticized the deportations as overly punitive for a population of mainly law-abiding and productive people. Though many are here illegally, they are unofficially allowed to stay because their labor helps the local economy. Immigrants are adjusting to different cultures and attitudes about drinking, Maus said, and many are simply unaware of the seriousness of DUI. Many of the immigrants in metro Atlanta are young men working long hours in the construction trade. "They are afraid of going out because they might get caught" as illegal, Maus said. "So they go and get drunk." When they're caught driving, they should be punished, Maus said, "but also with a very strong educational element" --- and not with deportation.
The INS began the deportations after Sergio Montelongo-Sanchez, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was charged with driving drunk and crashing into a car, killing three teens in Marietta. He is in jail awaiting a grand jury appearance.
The INS had stepped up deportations of illegal immigrants charged with crimes, but DUIs were a low priority until the Marietta tragedy.
Now it's impacting illegal immigrants like Montelongo-Sanchez and Anibal Cisneros-Gomez. Gomez, 34, was charged with DUI in Gwinnett on Aug. 25. He also gave a false identity to an officer and tried to flee, Szafnicki said. He was convicted five days later and deported in September. "Anyone here illegally should be removed," Cobb Sheriff Bill Hutson said, applauding the deportation effort. "But I agree with the higher priority put toward those endangering the public by driving under the influence."
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Memories empower friends
Christopher Quinn – Staff
Thursday, November 30, 2000
The friends of three teenagers killed in a car wreck are working to make sure the deaths were not in vain. Jacqueline Foreman and Chip O'Kelley, both 19 and full of youthful independence, pooled a few dollars, a little computer know-how and some help from friends and the families of the dead teenagers and started a nonprofit organization called STOP Inc. The name stands for Save the Other Person.
That is what they want to do, Foreman said: save others from suffering the fates of Miechelle "Kelli" Bourgeois and Christopher Shackleford, both 19 and from Woodstock, and Julieanne Pascoe, 18, of Kennesaw. The three died last summer after being hit by a 20-year-old who is charged with driving drunk. "This was pretty upsetting to us all," O'Kelley said. "We had a lot of anger toward the driver, and we wanted to focus something positive into that rather than just holding in the anger."
Deborah Dahlmann, the mother of Bourgeois, and the other parents, Kenny and Cindy Shackleford and Neil and Dawn Pascoe, encouraged the group and work with them. "They needed somewhere to send that energy that the loss of these friends created," Dahlmann said.
Bourgeois, Shackleford, Pascoe and Matthew Hunt, 24 at the time and the only survivor, were driving north on Sandtown Road in Cobb County to a friend's house July 29.
Minutes before, Sergio Montelongo-Sanchez, 20, had been kicked out of Dos Naciones bar for fighting, Cobb police said. He drove out of the parking lot in a black 1992 Lincoln Continental, bumping several cars and coming close to hitting people, before pulling south onto Sandtown Road. At the two cars approached, the Continental crossed the center line and hit the Honda Civic Shackleford was driving, police said. The wreck killed Shackleford and Pascoe. Bourgeois died four days later. The three friends are buried outside Woodstock in adjacent plots that were owned by Shackleford's parents.
Foreman said in the days after the wreck, she considered joining Students Against Drunk Driving or Mothers Against Drunk Driving. But in a burst of youthful optimism and independence, she and friends decided to form their own group. "It's not that we didn't want to work with them or to go against them. We have a lot of MADD bumper stickers on our cars," said Foreman, of Cumming. "It's just, I think they are really big." The friends wanted something more personal. They wanted control of doing the work in memory of their friends.
Robert Shaginaw, one of Shackleford's friends, created a Web site for STOP. Friends and family members pooled money, hired a lawyer and had STOP registered with the Georgia secretary of state. It has attracted 25 members.
They have spoken out at public meetings on drunken driving. Two members attended debates in Alpharetta in November, during which the City Council discussed doing away with its law requiring that anyone, regardless of apparent age, show proof of age when buying alcohol.
They are organizing a protest outside the state Capitol early next year, when legislators' debates about tightening teenage driving laws are expected to make news.
Studies have named teenagers as the most dangerous drivers on the road. The General Assembly increased restrictions on teenage drivers in 1997, including a prohibition on driving between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., but some think the laws are not enough. Sen. Phil Gingrey, who represents Cherokee and Cobb counties, wants to raise the age for getting a driver's license to 17 and put other restrictions on teenage drivers.
STOP members say they are staying focused on the drunk driving issues, especially for teenagers. They are planning a video about driving for teenagers they would like to show in schools.
Dahlmann and some of the teenage members are also taking quieter action. They have gone into restaurants and ordered drinks to see if they can get served. They don't report those that do serve them to police. Instead, they recognize those restaurants that refuse to serve them by writing a letter of congratulations to the manager.
"It takes a lot of reading, a lot of investigation, but hopefully, we can get something done," Dahlmann said.
Father of teen killed holds waitress largely responsible
By Chris Joyner
Marietta Daily Journal Staff Writer
MARIETTA — Kenny Shackleford said he holds Leydi Mendoza greatly responsible in the death of his son, Christopher.
"If she hadn’t sold him the alcohol, he wouldn’t have driven drunk and my son would still be alive," he said, referring to the waitress charged with selling alcohol to 20-year-old Sergio Montelongo-Sanchez the night he allegedly killed three local teen-agers in a wreck last July.
Ms. Mendoza, 25, was scheduled to appear in Marietta Municipal Court on Tuesday to face misdemeanor charges of selling alcohol to an underaged person. But with the prosecution unable to locate Luis Montelongo-Sanchez, Sergio’s cousin and a witness in the case, Magistrate Court Judge Roger Rozen agreed to "dead docket" the case.
Shackleford said he is frustrated with the way the case has been prosecuted. The city should hold Ms. Mendoza accountable for serving an underaged customer, he said.
"It seems to me this would set a good example," Shackleford said.
The case against Ms. Mendoza is a sidelight to the charges facing Montelongo-Sanchez, who waits in the Cobb County Adult Detention Center to stand trial on three counts of vehicular homicide.
Montelongo-Sanchez is accused of causing an accident on July 29, killing Woodstock residents Christopher Shackleford and Michele "Kelli" Bourgeois, both 19, and Kennesaw resident Julieanne Pascoe, 18. Police say Montelongo-Sanchez was drunk when he left Dos Naciones Bar on Sandtown Road in Marietta. Just a half-mile away near Booth Road, his car struck one driven by Shackleford.
Tuesday’s court date was the third time Ms. Mendoza’s case has been delayed, much to the frustration of Kenny Shackleford, the only family member of the slain teens at the hearing.
"I think this is a good resolution for everybody," said Marietta attorney Bill Clark, who is representing Ms. Mendoza. "If and when [the witness] ever shows up we’ll deal with it then."
Kenny Shackleford sat stoically in the back of the courtroom during the brief hearing, wearing a button with his son’s picture on it. He said he will continue to show up at the court hearings as the "eyes and ears" of his son.
"Every time somebody sneezes, I’m going to be there," he said.
Ms. Mendoza, however, was not at the hearing. Her attorney said his client does not speak English and an interpreter was not available.
"If I don’t have an interpreter, I don’t have a client," he said.
The results of this court held in the City of Marietta Courts system were very disappointing. The case against the waitress was set aside because NO witnesses to her serving Sergio could be located though the bar was full that particular night. The only witness that the prosecution could get testimony from had disappeared. He was a cousin to Sergio and an illegal alien as well. The bar was closed down after it was discovered there was no liquor license and the owner arrested. He was released and paid his fine. The following Monday he applied for and got his license. The bar opened again that night and is to this day still open. The waitress is still sealing alcohol.
Photo of Kenny Shackleford in Court That Dayhttp://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/ftm/s/h/a/Kendrick-W-Shackleford/PHOTO/0037photo.html
Immigrant pleads guilty in 3 deaths
Craig Schneider – Staff
Tuesday, May 15, 2001
An illegal immigrant pleaded guilty to three charges of vehicular homicide Monday in connection with the deaths of three teenagers in Marietta last July.
Sergio Montelongo-Sanchez, 21, also pleaded guilty to DUI, reckless driving, possession of alcohol by a minor, and several other charges. He will be sentenced June 22 in Cobb County Superior Court. The families of the victims have agreed to ask Judge Mary Staley for a sentence of 45 years, said Van Pearlberg, a Cobb County senior assistant district attorney.
Montelongo-Sanchez was charged with killing the three teens after he got behind the wheel after being kicked out of a bar for fighting July 29. According to Marietta police, he crashed his southbound Lincoln Continental head-on into a Honda Civic, killing Christopher Shackleford, 19, of Woodstock and Julieanne Pasco, 18, of Kennesaw. Miechelle "Kelli" Bourgeois, 19, of Woodstock died days later. After the accident, police said Montelongo-Sanchez admitted he had been driving after drinking and was the driver of the Lincoln.
The accident spurred the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Georgia to begin deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants who are caught driving drunk. In their grief, the victims' friends started an organization, STOP Drunk Driving (Save The Other Person), in an effort to get people to behave responsibly when it comes to alcohol.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
DUI driver sentenced today in
deaths of three teens
He could receive up to 45 years
By YOLANDA RODRIGUEZ
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer
Three years ago Sergio Montelongo-Sanchez left the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.
An 18-year-old student, he did not want to see his parents struggling to put him and two younger siblings through school.
His parents did not want him to go. But they could not dissuade him.
German Montelongo, 70, who had been to the United States when he was 17, told his son: "Be careful. Don't drink. Don't drive. Don't fight."
Montelongo-Sanchez made his way to Smyrna, where he started working in construction. Soon money, school supplies and gifts for his relatives arrived back in his hometown of Villa Gonzalez.
On July 28, his father's advice was forgotten. And the lives of four families were changed forever.
Montelongo-Sanchez will be sentenced today for the vehicular homicide of three teenagers: Christopher Shackleford, 19, of Woodstock; Julieanne Pascoe, 18, of Kennesaw; and Miechelle "Kelli" Bourgeois, 19, also of Woodstock. He could receive up to 45 years in prison.
Montelongo-Sanchez, who had been drinking illegally in a Marietta bar, crashed into their car on Sandtown Road. His blood alcohol level was .178, more than twice the legal limit. "I made a mistake," Montelongo-Sanchez said during a jail interview. He tapped nervously at the glass separating him from a visitor.
Tears filled his eyes as he recalled the fatal night.
"I have not been able to ask for their forgiveness," he said in Spanish.
"It was never my intention to cause them such hurt. . . . I see my mother suffer; they must be suffering even more."
Montelongo-Sanchez pleaded guilty last month "because I accept that it was a mistake to drink."
Christopher died at the scene. Julieanne died at the hospital. Kelli's boyfriend,
Matthew Hunt, then 24, survived.
It had appeared Kelli would survive, said Deborah Dahlmann, her mother.
But she got worse quickly. In the days that followed, she had two strokes and her brain swelled.
"She would need 24-hour-a-day care," her mother said. "She would never walk and possibly never communicate."
Kelli was taken off a respirator twice to determine if she could breathe on her own. She couldn't. The family knew what they had to do.
"They turned it off and she turned blue," her mother said. "I didn't know that would happen. I said, 'Please tell me that it doesn't hurt her,' and they promised it didn't."
Dahlmann pressed her hand against her daughter's heart.
"It was 191 heartbeats," she said.
Montelongo-Sanchez was 20 years old when he, a cousin and a friend drove up to the Dos Naciones bar. "No one ever asked me my age," he said.
Montelongo-Sanchez drank between 10 and 15 long-neck Budweisers. They danced to the house band playing rancheras and cumbias.
Late into the evening the group exchanged words and stern glances with a group of men.
Montelongo-Sanchez doesn't remember what was said. He remembers getting shoved, falling, bleeding and leaving the bar. Police said Montelongo-Sanchez tried to run several people down and hit one person as he drove out of the parking lot. He remembers seeing the men he fought with and a bouncer follow him.
He hit the curb with his Lincoln Continental and bounced into the northbound lane just as Shackleford's Honda Civic approached.
Christopher was driving. Kelli was changing a CD. Julieanne was sitting in the back seat with Hunt. They were on their way to Cherokee County to watch videos at a friend's and help Kelli do her laundry.
It was just after 1 a.m.
Dawn Pascoe paged her daughter.
"I would beep her with a '411' and she would always answer me," she said. "I'm hoping she was looking at the beeper and not at the car coming at her."
Christopher, Julieanne and Kelli are buried at Rolling Hills Memory Gardens in Acworth. Kenny Shackleford goes there almost every day. His head and heart are filled with memories of his son. "It's just him," he said. "Everything about him, everything from the first day he was born until the day he died."
Montelongo-Sanchez has asked forgiveness. Dahlmann is prepared to give it to him.
"I want him to forgive himself," she said. "I want him to know that God will forgive him."
Montelongo-Sanchez's mother prays for the strangers that she saw in court last year.
"Three children are dead, and he is in jail. I feel so sad for their children," cried Dora Estela Sanchez, 52.
Dawn Pascoe says she has never felt anger at Montelongo-Sanchez. She misses her daughter too much.
"I just feel sadness," she said. "I know that Julie is -- he sent her home. Who knows what was in God's plan that night? I don't know."
The parents said the bar is ultimately responsible for what happened. The Pascoes and Shacklefords are suing the bar owners, Armando Gaspar and Antonio Ortiz Gonzalez, and Montelongo-Sanchez in Cobb State Court. The bar owners could not be reached for comment.
At the time of the accident the Dos Naciones was operating without a license. It had expired Dec. 31, 1998.
Two months after the fatal crash, the bar was raided. Gonzalez was arrested and pleaded guilty to selling alcohol without a license. He paid a $500 fine. In October, the owners gave state officials a copy of the bar's business license from the city of Marietta, and another beer and wine license was issued.
On a recent Friday night, a bouncer frisked men entering the bar. Another took a $10 cover charge from the men and marked their right hands.
Men, young and old, gathered around tables, drinking $3 Budweisers. A handful of women charged $5 a dance. The house band played Mexican hits.
A teenager talked to the bouncer at the door. "I'm 17," she said. "But I've been here before." She and a group of friends disappeared into the darkness of the bar.
No questions were asked
Families plan case against drunk driver
Wrongful death civil lawsuit to include bar that served Montelongo
By Mike Sampogna
Marietta Daily Journal Staff Writer
MARIETTA — The families of the victims killed by admitted drunk driver Sergio Montelongo-Sanchez plan to file a wrongful death civil suit against him.
Dawn Pascoe, mother of 18-year-old Julieanne Pascoe, one of three teens killed in the July crash, said the announcement will come Wednesday morning at a press conference in Tucker.
The bar where Montelongo-Sanchez was drinking before the crash, Dos Naciones, also will be named in the suit.
On May 14, Montelongo-Sanchez pleaded guilty to 22 counts in Cobb Superior Court, including six vehicular homicide charges, stemming from a July car wreck. He could be sentenced to 45 years in prison on June 22.
Ms. Pascoe said she did not know when the suit would be filed officially, or what damages would be sought.
"I don’t know what the lawsuit says," Ms. Pascoe said. "We’ve given our attorney [Claudine Williams] carte blanche to do what they think needs to be done. The attorneys are handling it."
Montelongo-Sanchez, 21, was indicted in November for vehicular homicide and numerous other charges, including serious injury by vehicle, driving under the influence and underage possession of alcohol.
He admitted to being drunk when his black Lincoln Continental hit a Honda driven by Christopher Shackleford, 19, of Woodstock on Sandtown Road in Marietta.
Montelongo-Sanchez, then 20, was traveling southbound on Sandtown near Booth Road when his car crossed the double yellow lines and collided head on with Shackleford’s vehicle.
Shackleford was killed, along with Julieanne Pascoe, 18, of Kennesaw and Michelle "Kelli" Bourgeois, 19, of Woodstock.
A fourth passenger, Matthew Hunt, 24, survived the crash.
Montelongo-Sanchez of Smyrna pleaded guilty after Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary E. Staley allowed statements he made immediately after the accident to police into the trial proceedings.
Montelongo-Sanchez told officers that he had "too many Budweisers."
The 45-year prison term was suggested by family members, but is not mandatory in exchange for a guilty plea.
However, it is the maximum time he could serve under the plea agreement.
Montelongo-Sanchez would have to serve 90 percent of the sentence for any vehicular homicide charges before he would be eligible for parole.
Teen victims’ parents suing bar owners
By Jeffrey Widmer
Marietta Daily Journal Staff Writer
TUCKER — Cindy Shackleford can remember how her 18-year-old son, Christopher, worried about not living as long as he wanted.
"He was always concerned about Jesus coming back too soon," said Ms. Shackleford of Woodstock. "He would always say, ‘Mom, I’m only 18, what if Jesus comes back?’"
Her son was one of three teen-agers killed in a tragic drunken driving accident on Sandtown Road last July, when Shackleford’s Honda Civic was struck by a black Lincoln Continental driven by Sergio Montelongo-Sanchez, then 20.
Montelongo-Sanchez had been drinking at the Dos Naciones Bar about two miles away on Sandtown Road and had been kicked out of the bar just minutes before the accident.
Also killed in the accident were Julieanne Pascoe, 19, of Kennesaw and Miechelle "Kelli" Bourgeois, 19, of Woodstock. Matthew Hunt, 24, of Marietta also was in the car and suffered numerous injuries, but survived.
A week after Montelongo-Sanchez pleaded guilty in Cobb County Superior Court to killing the teens and now could receive 45 years in prison, the parents of Shackleford and Ms. Pascoe have filed a civil suit in Cobb County State Court against him and the two owners of Dos Naciones bar, Armband Gaspar and Antonio Ortiz.
Although the suit does not seek a dollar amount from the defendants, all involved say that’s the way it was intended.
"There is no dollar amount to bring back a child," said Claudine S. Wilkins of The Wilkins Law Firm, which, along with Hertz, Link & Smith of Tucker, is representing the families in the suit.
"It’s the cause itself. We’re not concerned with [dollar amounts] right now. This behavior by the bar itself has got to be deterred."
At a press conference Wednesday attended by family members of Shackleford and Ms. Pascoe, Ms. Wilkins, former Cobb County solicitor, said waitresses at the bar continued to serve Montelongo-Sanchez Budweiser beers after he was "visibly drunk."
A Polaroid picture of Montelongo-Sanchez was taken the night of the accident at the bar that shows him sitting at a table with several long-neck Budweisers in front of him, she said.
"This establishment has been very lax. Even after this [accident] happened we got some information that they continued to serve underage drinkers," she said.
The suit, filed Tuesday, names Montelongo-Sanchez but clearly targets the Dos Naciones bar. It states that Gaspar and Ortiz negligent in hiring the persons who allowed Montelongo-Sanchez to enter the bar when he was 20-year-old, too young to consume alcohol legally.
The suit also says the owners of the bar should have known the people they hired were incompetent and "unable to perform their job duties in an ordinary and reasonable manner."
The suit accuses all three defendants of willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantoness, oppression, and asks for punitive damages from Gaspar and Ortiz. Ms. Wilkins said Wednesday that Dos Naciones was not licensed to sell alcohol on July 29, the date of the accident.
Gaspar and Ortiz, who could not be reached for comment, have been in trouble with the law before in relation to the accident. The Georgia Department of Revenue raided the bar in September and confiscated 4,220 bottles of beer, shutting the bar’s doors for selling alcohol without a license.
Ortiz was taken to jail for the offense. However, he renewed his license in December and the bar was reopened.
The waitress who served the alcohol to Montelongo-Sanchez, Leydi Mendoza, 25, was charged with selling alcohol to an underage person and was to be prosecuted in Marietta Municipal Court. But with the prosecution unable to locate key witnesses in the case, Magistrate Court Roger Rozen agreed to "dead docket" the case.
This has been another source of frustration for the families, along with the behavior of certain other persons, whom Ms. Wilkins could not identify, at the bar the night of the accident.
Montelongo-Sanchez was in a fight at the bar and was kicked out by three bouncers there. Ms. Wilkins and Eric Hertz, who is also representing the families, believe the bouncers should have taken his keys or called the police instead of chasing him out of the parking lot, as they say the bouncers did that night.
"This bar is very poorly run," Ms. Wilkins said. "It should not be open. There are four families who have been greatly affected by their negligence."
The parents themselves have started an organization called Save The Other Person (STOP), which targets drunk drivers and is attempting to raise awareness among young people. Kenny Shackleford serves as president and the Web site address is www.STOPDD.org.
Jessica Pascoe, 22, who lost her younger sister in the accident, said the pain becomes more real as time goes by.
"My big thing is choices," Ms. Pascoe said. "In this situation, all the wrong choices were made." But Dawn Pascoe, Julieanne’s mother, said she does not feel anger.
"I have sadness. Anger toward Sergio, anger toward the bar is not going to bring Julie back, bring Chris back, bring [Miechelle] back," she said.
Ms. Shackleford said she and her husband do feel a bit of anger.
"It’s righteous indignation. But our son is gone. And yes, we are angry. We are angry at the system that failed us, and my husband is more angry at Sergio than I am."
Kenny Shackleford ended the press conference with a warning.
"If there’s a drunk driver out there listening to me, I want him to know one thing, that I am his worst enemy," he said.
by Kenny and Cindy Shackleford
Read in court on the day sentence was passed down
When sentencing is finished today it will bring to an end a very long year of speculation and second-guessing of justice and what it means to all involved. However, no one will leave this courtroom a winner. We all leave as losers. My wife and I have lost a son, the Pascoes’ and Dalhman’s have lost a daughter, Sergio has lost his freedom.
I feel sorrow for Sergio’s family and the grief they have to carry. I know the years ahead will be very difficult for them. Still they can write to their son, talk to him on the phone, and occasionally visit him. We don’t have that privilege. When we visit our son it’s a one-way conversation at the cemetery.
I think very often of the last time that I saw Chris and how proud I was of him. We had a very good afternoon together and talked about his future and the choices that he had made. He was very eager to get his second year at Georgia State started and to continue working on his dreams. Had I only known that a few miles away someone else was making choices, very bad choices, that would destroy those dreams and take Chris away from us forever.
It was Sergio’s choice to go to the bar and get drunk. It was his choice to get into a fight. It was his choice to hit several cars and a pedestrian. I can’t say that it was his choice to hit my son but it is fact the choices he made prior to that resulted in the crash. What about the choices he made after the damages were done? He choice to run and hide.
Now it’s the Courts’ turn, and our turn, to make a choice. Will the Court choose to send Sergio to prison for a minimal time or will the Court choose to set an example? Will the Court have the courage to say enough is enough and they will no longer tolerate the destructive behavior of those who choose to destroy and break the lives of the innocent victims?
All that I ask from the Court is to make the right choice. Not only to render justice to the victims but also to help stop this insanity that is taking so many lives. My choice is to do all that I can to Stop drunk driving and to try and encourage others to join in this fight. I can never bring Chris back but through the Grace of God and the help of this Court, maybe we can prevent this nightmare for other families.
In the very early hours of July 29, 2000, my son was fatally crushed when Sergio Montelongo-Sanchez drove his big Lincoln head-first into Christopher’s car. I haven’t seen pictures of Chris or his damaged Honda but have been told that he didn’t stand a chance – that there was no way he could have survived. And he died in a strange place with no family around. No one to hold him as his last breath drifted away. I didn’t see him until the viewing at the funeral home. I wanted so much for it to be a mistake – that it really wasn’t my Christopher in the coffin – and he was so cold. He had injuries on the left side of his head – my friend Jason took care of him for us and pointed them out so I wouldn’t be frightened. If you were looking at Chris from the right side you couldn’t see the wounds that had been so carefully covered. But his lips were swollen – Jason said probably from biting them - and he had something plastic covering his chest. I could see it just about the collar of his favorite shirt. I don’t think anyone else saw it, I pulled his shirt up a bit to cover it so his friends wouldn’t see. How he must have hurt in the time before his heart quit beating. In their kindness, people say that he probably didn’t feel a thing. Oh if only I could believe that. And what went through his mind those seconds before the impact, when the lights of Sergio Montelongo-Sanchez’ car came straight at him?
I am often asked what it feels like having lost a child. There are no words to adequately descibe the emotions. It is agony, soul-wrenching despair, a deep stabbing heart pain that won’t go away. It is misery at its fullest – and terror – terror that it will happen again to your remaining child. A fear that stays with you day in and day out – a fear not unfounded. It has happened to us! Our child is dead! My son is gone from me forever and he had just turned 19! He had just begun to live…………
We are here for the sentencing for Mr. Montelongo-Sanchez. He has finally admitted his guilt – now it is up to this court to assign his punishment. Even though Montelongo may not have wanted to go to that bar on that night – he did go. Even though he was a minor – he was served and he did drink – too many Budweisers by his own admission. And even though he was VERY intoxicated, he climbed into his vehicle and struck several cars AS WELL AS hitting a by-stander before turning his Lincoln onto Sandtown Road and slamming into my son, killing him, MURDERING him and his friends – and shattering our lives forever.
The cap is set at 45 years which we believe to be very lenient. Please consider all of the terrible choices that were made by Montelongo. Please think of the all of the lives so tragically impacted by one man’s selfish lack of consideration for the lives of other. Please, please make this sentence count – let it send a message to others who may be just as inconsiderate. But most of all, let it show that justice is still alive in our legal system with respect to drinking and driving.
Last Day in Court Article and the Resultshttp://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/ftm/s/h/a/Kendrick-W-Shackleford/PHOTO/0116photo.html
A STORY BY CHRIS SHACKLEFORD Christmas 1999
Rockwell Couldn’t Do Better
As I was sitting on my back porch smoking a cigarette last Christmas Eve, something incredible grabbed my attention. My neighbors who lived in a two-million-dollar mansion and my other neighbors who lived in an old, shabby trailer were celebrating with the same amount of joy. They were not celebrating together, but I could see that both families were equally happy. This completely baffled my mind. I could not comprehend how the families could be so different throughout the year and then be so similar during the holidays. I looked closer.
In the mansion, a Christmas tree reached almost all the way up to the Cathedral ceiling of the cavernous living room. Gathered around it were columns of presents with a glorious variety of wrapping paper, children anxiously waiting to tear into the gifts, and their proud parents looking on with all the love proud parents should have. Warm smiles appeared on every face as an older woman came into the room with a tray full of cocoa, eggnog, and various cookies.
Outside there were two elderly gentlemen bundled up in leather, sharing old memories while smoking their pipes. Children, older than the ones around the Christmas tree, were chasing the family dog back and forth in a game of tag. These people were not at all bothered by the fact that it was below freezing outside; they were enjoying life.
The thousands of white Christmas lights against the night sky seemed to frame the family and mansion as if it were a portrait. This was a perfect picture of a traditional
American Christmas; Norman Rockwell couldn’t have painted it better. A blind man would have seen the joy on their faces.
My attention drifted from the mansion when I heard laugher coming from the center room of the trailer. In this room children and adults were huddled around a small, plastic tree along with a few presents that had been wrapped-up with used newspapers. The children looked anxious to jump into the gifts as the parents looked upon them with pride and contentment. A table had been set up in the corner with bottles of Coca-Cola, a plate of finger sandwiches, and various cookies, but had since been emptied by large appetites.
A cloud of cigarette smoke was hovering over the trailer outside where several men were gathered around talking about the surprising Atlanta Falcons. Across the yard two young teenagers were throwing a football back and forth pretending to be members of the Falcons. Every few minutes one of the smokers would cheer for the teenagers. The fact that it was below freezing didn’t bother them; they were enjoying life.
The stars in the sky were the only decoration they had besides the small, artificial tree, but that didn’t seem to phase them. They were having their traditional Christmas. The joy they were having even brought a smile to my face.
After watching these families for about an hour, I came to the conclusion that the only real difference was the money. They both had loving families, they both celebrated Christmas, and they both were my neighbors. All I had to do was look a little closer to understand how they could have the same joy. I realized that joy is not based on money, but based on love. I then went inside to be with my family.
Photos of Christopher
Chris at Prom Day http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/ftm/s/h/a/Kendrick-W-Shackleford/PHOTO/0020photo.html
Chris in production of "Bye Bye Birdie" http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/ftm/s/h/a/Kendrick-W-Shackleford/PHOTO/0141photo.html
Chris with his friendhttp://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/ftm/s/h/a/Kendrick-W-Shackleford/PHOTO/0037photo.html
More Photos of Chris and his Friendshttp://www.filmboy18.com/pictures/
This Is Where It Ends
Chris is buried at The Rolling Hills Memory Garden Cemetery near Acworth, Georgia, next to the two other victims who were killed in an auto accident that was caused by a drunk driver. I visit this very sad place 2 and 3 times a week and have done so every week for the past year. I beg everyone, please, don't drink and drive.http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/ftm/s/h/a/Kendrick-W-Shackleford/PHOTO/0115photo.html
I remember you, Chris, the day you were born, with you hair in ringlets and your hands so blue.
I remember the intensity, even as a toddler, that you put into every task you attempted.
I remember your sweetness and shyness as a preschooler, your curly red hair and lovely long lashes.
I remember your first grade class with your very own spelling list because you already knew how to read.
I remember your fascination with climbing trees and digging holes when you were 10.
I remember how much you loved sports, collecting baseball cards and watching the Braves.
I remember how much you loved movies of all kinds, especially horror, and how much you wanted to be a part of the magic of Hollywood.
I remember calls from downtown when you had a break from class at Georgia State, just to touch base.
I remember the last time I saw you, the last time I hugged you, the last time I told you I loved you. Had I known it was going to be the last time I would have found a way to keep you at home.
I will never forget you and I will see to it that others will not forget you, either. Your short life will not have been in vain. You are a part of me and will live within me forever.
Sweet Christopher, I will always love you.
- Mom (email@example.com)
I love you so much Chris and always will – Dad
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