I know that writing a victim’s impact statement is difficult and you really do not know where to start. I wanted to publish mine in hopes that is might provide some guidance. I hope this might help you and may you have the strength to carry you through as you read it to the court.
The statement I read in court is as follows:
I am speaking today in regards to the sentence for Angela Mata. I am Samantha Gallagher, wife of Border Patrol Agent Michael Gallagher.
It has been 16 months since Angela got behind the wheel of the truck that crashed into my husband’s service vehicle, throwing him from the vehicle and taking his life. While my husband was working overnight to protect our country’s borders, Angela admitted that she was drinking all night and into the next morning of September 2nd with only a few hours of sleep. Her blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit. Still, she decided to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. She admitted NOT stopping at the intersection before she crashed into my husband’s work truck. Mike had finally ended his shift and was driving back to the station to come home to his family when Angela committed this unforgiveable act. Yet, she said that she did not drink too much to get behind the wheel of a vehicle in the presentencing hearing. If she does not recognize the fact that she drank too much, this is a severe problem. She broke the law and her selfish decision caused the death of my husband and my children’s father.
On September 2nd 2010, I was at home working when I received the knock on my door. I was informed my husband was dead. I always knew there was a chance that Mike might have to give his life to protect others, when he served our country in the Army and then in the Border Patrol. What I wasn’t prepared for was a thoughtless and preventable act like someone getting behind of the wheel of a truck, too intoxicated to recognize they needed to stop with oncoming traffic. After I was informed of my husband’s death I had to tell our children. I don’t know if anyone present today has had to look into their eight year old child’s eyes and tell them their father is dead. But it is impossible to describe how it takes the life out of you and rips your heart out. Then explaining it to your 2 year old child takes the rest of the life from you and stomps on your heart. Our children and I are victims of a careless drunk driver.
Our children developed sleeping problems. They were unable to sleep some nights. They would lie in bed crying for the loss that they did not know how to explain to other children their age. It was the loss of their protector, their father. They have been tortured emotionally and physically with the death of their nurturer and role model. They have been through several months of counseling. We have sat around the kitchen table eating looking at the empty seat where their father once sat. We were forced to walk by his favorite chair every day continually reminded of his death. We got rid of it, because of the pain it caused.
We have had holidays where their father was not able to share in their joy of being a family. One of Rhyan’s last memory of his father was his daddy saving him from a bee sting. His dad was playing with him outside when he got stung by a bee. His daddy pulled out the stinger, placed a band aid on it and put ice on it. Daddy made him feel better, but his daddy is no longer here to make him feel better. Rhyan had his first baseball game this year, something Mike was looking forward to. Rhyan was not able to hear his father’s encouragement, because he was killed. Mike had just taught Quincy how to tie his shoes before he died. Quincy was not able to go to his dad and say, look I did it again. He would have heard his father say great job, buddy. But he will not get to hear praise from his dad ever again. Quincy developed an eating disorder from his pain and suffering that he is being treated for now. When we go places, people ask about their father and our boys look at the stranger. Rhyan usually says my daddy is dead. I am left to share what happened and relive the tragedy all over again. We are not able to live what we considered as our normal life. It has forever been changed due to Angela Mata’s carelessness.
I was forced to plan my husband’s untimely funeral. I am unsure how I was capable of planning it, only that I had the support of family and friends. I also knew that Mike needed to be honored for the man he was and I love him.
When my husband came into my life, I met a man of courage, honor, and love. He had love for his family, friends and for his country. He wanted to protect his country and did this first by serving in the Army. He then took the position as a United States Border Patrol Agent to continue to serve and protect his country. When he was in the Border Patrol Academy he wrote me a note to thank me. It said thank you for standing by his side while he continued to do what we knew he was meant for, to protect and serve. He said he loved us with all of his heart. He wanted me to give a hug to Quincy and Rhyan for him.
To really demonstrate the kind of husband and person he was I want to share a letter he wrote to me once when he hurt my feelings. It reads:
You know you are the only woman in the world for me. I still feel awful that I hurt your feelings the way I did. Seeing you cry crushes me. My main goal in life is to be a good husband and father. You, Quincy and Rhyan are the most important thing in the world to me and I would die if I did anything to screw up our lives together. I really don’t think I express how much you mean to me. These are just a few of the reasons why I love you so much:
- You are beautiful
- You are sexy
- You are caring
- You are sensitive
- You support me
- You are a fantastic mother
- You brought me Quincy into my life
- You brought me Rhyan into my life
- You scratch my back
- You pluck my eyebrows
- You are driven
- You are successful
- You are smart
- You take care of me when I am sick
- You’re a great cook
- You calm me when I’m frustrated
- You give me so much even when I am a jerk
- You are always there for me
- You forgive me
You are the best thing that ever happened to me.
I love you with all of my heart!
My husband had a big heart and he shared his love. He was taken far too early. He is no longer able to love, protect and serve due to Angela Mata’s choices she made on the morning of September 2nd, 2010.
Mike would have wanted justice in a case like this. He would have wanted Angela Mata to take personal accountability for what she did, the mistakes that she made, and learn from them. Mike would not have excused what she did; however, because he was such a loving and forgiving man, he would have forgiven that she made a mistake, as people do make mistakes, all the while hoping that she would never again decide to behave so carelessly.
Our children, his sisters, his parents, his friends, his family in green and I are left mourning his loss every hour of every day. We will mourn his death for the rest of our lives. That has changed many of us and will for the rest of our lives. Our children are left without their protector, their father. It was not their father’s decision to leave them; it was Angela Mata’s unlawful decision that caused Mike’s death on September 2nd.
A new life has been forced on my family, to learn how to continue on when a piece of us is missing. We not only mourn the loss of my husband, but the dreams that were taken away from him and us. I mourn the additional child we were going to have that will never happen. We had been discussing the daughter we wanted to complete our family and were months away from attempting to conceive the child. I mourn the life that he does not get to live and the life we would have created.
We will be able to laugh and smile, but there will be pain in our eyes for Mike’s smile and contagious laughter will not be there to join us.
Angela’s sentence will only be 5 years, but for Mike’s children, family, friends and me, we will live without him for the rest of our lives. If you ask me, 5 years is a much lighter sentence than Mike and his loved ones have to face.
Recently our now 4 year old was talking about his father’s death. He brought up how his father went to work and he died. He said his daddy was hit by the lady that drank too much beer. As I have been writing this victims impact statement, I wanted to know what he thought about the punishment Angela should face. So I asked him what he thinks the cops should do with the lady that hit daddy. He said take her to jail. Then I asked him for how long. He looked up at me with his big blue eyes and said forever. Rhyan knows his father will never be back. To him it makes sense that she should have the same sentence that he has to live with for the rest of his life.
We do not get the choice to ask for her to stay in prison forever, because of what the guidelines of the law state. So we have asked for what we believe is the most time she can spend in prison for the actions she took that lead to my husband’s death.
I also spoke with our now 9 year old son about writing an impact statement. It was very difficult for him to put into words how this has impacted his life. He was able to say two sentences to me about it. He said that when his dad was killed he was very sad. He said it was impossible for him to sleep, because he was worried about his life. I do not think he needs to say anymore. Angela Mata’s actions took an eight year olds childhood and changed it. He was put in a position to worry about his life.
I only know the impact that our children and I have had in the last 16 months and do not know what lies ahead of us in the years to come. It will be an ongoing struggle we will all have to continue to work through for the rest of our lives.
I only hope that the 5 year conviction teaches and may make Angela feel the sorrow that we will always feel inside of us. I do not want her to cause anymore pain in her life to another family like she did to the Gallagher’s. That she might look in the mirror one day and see the eyes that I have had to look into since September 2nd 2010… the eyes of our children and into my own eyes after their father and my husband was killed. That they will never have their father or I, my husband by our side or have him walk in the door to wrap his arms around us ever again, because of Angela’s negligent, selfish, destructive, unlawful act she committed to Michael Gallagher and to his family.