Posted by Ken Campbell July 19, 2011 1 Comment 1028 views

I haven’t gone to the last couple of hearings in the ongoing saga of the State v. Amber Steim. Scheduling conflicts of one sort or another have conspired to keep me away, but I have not lost sight of what happened that Sunday morning this past March on the highway near Port Angeles. Of course, all I really know for sure is that Ellen Debondt was alive, very much alive, and then she was not.
I have driven that stretch of road quite a few times, both before the accident and since, and I have tried to imagine what went down on that quiet winter morning. Was Ellen listening to the radio, humming along and thinking about the day ahead? Did she have a cup of tea in one hand as she drove in to work? Was she reflecting on the the great weekend she’d had at the Pummel just six or seven days earlier, and thinking ahead to the next chance she’d have to get on the water? Was she smiling? Before her life was taken from her, did she have any warning, or was the foul deed over in the instant that it occurred?
I want to know, but I don’t want to know. The whole thing is sad on so many levels. I’m sad for the Washington paddling community, who have lost a friend and a sister. I’m sad for her patients, those in hospice care who never expected to outlast their smiling care provider. In a strange way that I don’t really know how to explain, I’m even sad for the defendant, and I cannot imagine the shredded nightmares that she is doomed to sweat through for the rest of her wretched life. And most of all, I’m sad for Ellen’s husband and family, who have had their hearts ripped open and their souls trampled upon by the thoughtless actions of a drunken fool.
There is an important hearing coming up this Thursday morning in Port Angeles in the ongoing case against Amber Steim, and I will be there for this one. I firmly believe in the notion that a person is innocent until proven guilty and that the law exists to protect the rights of all citizens, not just the ones with whom I agree. It’s hard, in a situation like this one, not to display my own judgement and disgust at the primal urges of the accused to save what she can of her own skin after she has taken everything away from others. But it’s not about her, and it’s certainly not about me.
I’m going to remember Ellen. I’m going to show my support for her memory and to let the rest of the courtroom, including the accused, know that the glow can remain even after the light has been extinguished. There will be others there as well, for the same reason. You’ll know who we are… each of us will be wearing a little pink paper heart on our chest, with a single name written on it.

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