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Letter: We Felt Sadness, Not Anger

To the Editor:

Last Thursday my family and I attended a plea agreement hearing in Vermont Superior Court for Joshua Ouimette, who was involved in a tragic accident in January 2012 that took the lives of my brother, Chris, and my nephew, his 10-year-old son, Travis.

As with any tragic event, a lot of people suffered immense pain and grief. The families of the victims and the defendant, as well as the defendant himself, have endured enough heartache to last a lifetime. Everyone’s lives have been turned upside down since the accident.

The Valley News reporter covering the hearing chose to sensationalize the story by stating that members of the victims’ family gave statements that called Ouimette “worse than a monster” and described their disgust for him. The “monster” quote came from a letter my 12-year-old nephew wrote to the court. He was in the car directly behind my brother’s vehicle that fateful day, and in the blink of an eye saw his best friend in the world, cousin Travis, and his uncle and surrogate father, Chris, taken away from him forever. My younger sister was driving that car, and she, too, has to relive that moment every day and hour of her life. She is the one who described her disgust for the defendant because she lost so much that day, as Chris was like a father to her children.

As a family, we all had the chance in court to speak to Josh of our grief and how the accident has affected our lives. We also spoke of our frustration in not having all the answers about why the accident occurred. This was the proper forum for those comments and inquiries, and he had to hear those come from us. We directed nothing in anger, only with sadness. But he also heard us say that “we all make mistakes,” and he and his family members knew that we had great empathy for them and fully appreciated what they are going through.

We shared tears and hugs together with his family after the hearing, and while there is never full closure when losing loved ones to tragic accidents, we are now able to put the court proceedings part of this behind us.

Kevin Raleigh

Hartford

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Monday, July 1, 2013

White River Junction — Anastasia Raleigh held up a framed portrait of her 10-year-old son and turned toward Joshua Ouimette in Windsor Superior Court. “This is my Travis. He was a happy boy,” Raleigh said yesterday during a victim impact statement. “He loved the beach, he loved the water, he loved Vermont and he wanted to become an actor.” Ouimette, …