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May 17, 2007

Gatz family statement following the sentencing of Paige Grable

Court statement read Wednesday by Kathy Gatz, the mother of John Gatz, a 16-year-old who was killed in a crash involving classmate Paige Grable, who was driving drunk: "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 our 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 p.m. — never in a million years would we dream that our son would be killed by a drunk driver 12 minutes later at 5:30 p.m. on a beautiful, bright sunny afternoon.

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