Sister of Victim Forgives UD Strength Coach in Court Room….Choices….Pain to Purpose….LOVE..
Please raise your hand if You/Me/We are Perfect? Why are We so Judgmental? Are You a Believer? If YOU/ME/WE are… the Bible says in Joshua 24:15 “But as for me and my family, WE will Serve the Lord.” WE Can Not Serve the Lord without a Heart of Forgiveness. Please raise Your hand IF You Have NEVER had 2 Alcoholic Drinks in an Hour and gotten behind the wheel and driven a car for Any amount of time. Being a former Assistant Coach at The University of Dayton from 1996-2000 Under Oliver Purnell, I sit on my couch typing this story watching UD vs the Richmond Spiders at Home in front of a Sellout crowd of 13,455. I ask myself..” How many UD Fans will drink Tonight/ANY Home Game and get behind the wheel tonight and Drive home? #TruthPill
University Dayton Strength Coach Paul Ivkovich, facing 8 years was sentenced to 4 years in Prison last Tuesday January 17th of aggravated vehicular homicide stemming from a crash that killed 48 year old Sharon Crawford on April 30th 2015. He was the former Strength Coach that was on the coaching staff that helped lead the UD Men’s Team to the Elite 8 three years ago. According to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office, Ivkovich had a blood alcohol content of .227, nearly three times the legal limit of .08. The victim was Ivkovich’s fiance’ who was a mother of 4 children.
Last Tuesday January 17, At 9:58 am, I entered the dimly lit and crowded Montgomery County Court room on the 4th Floor. I do not know the defendant nor the victim’s family. My Purpose was to Witness Paul Ivkovich being sentenced and to Pray for both families. I have experienced the greatest Gift I have ever received from God, the Gift of Desperation. Going back to the night of March 17th, 1990 in Fall River Massachusetts, I made the same Poor and Selfish decision, I was driving behind the wheel, I actually drank more than what Paul Ivkovich drank on that fatal night of April 30th, 2015. I was driving down a two lane highway, lost control of my car and hit a parked car in the breakdown lane traveling at 55mph, never used my brakes and all I remember is hearing the noise of smashing glass, being stunned and comprehend what was going on. As I came aware, I looked to my right and my friend Chris Berge was bleeding profusely from his head and I thought he was Dead. I jumped out of my seat, ran around the car, opened the door and began mouth to mouth resuscitation to him. I did not think I just acted/reacted to Help Chris, “God, please don’t let him Die, I am begging You, Please don’t let him Die God.
By 11:50 am on Tuesday, Mr. Ivkovich case was called and he entered the court room with his lawyer. Prior to being called, The Victim’s Family daughters entered the court room and sat directly behind me as I sat in the second row, the victim’s sister sat in front of me on the first row. Before the judge called Paul into the court room, the defending and prosecuting attorney were conferring with the judge to the side where the judge sits. I could feel the Love and Hate in the room, kleenix started to be passed out as the family began to cry in anticipation of what sentence would be handed down to Mr. Ivkovich. As the side conversations were going on, I put my head down, growing up in the Catholic church, I began saying 10 Hail Mary’s, 3 Our Father’s and One Glory Be….God Help us here today, God, I am not demanding, I am not suggesting, I Beg YOU to Help everyone here Today, Please God Help Us. Psalm 73:1 “God is Good”.
Five minutes passed and the court reporter read the counts that Mr. Ivkovich faced. The Judge communicated to the court that there would be two woman reading their letters to the court. The first was the daughter of the victim, as she read her letter she was crying to tell the story of the her mother’s Legacy of Love in her journey in life for the past 48 years before that fatal night on April 30th , 2015. She demanded that the defendant spend at least 4 years in jail and have his license suspended for the rest of life . She paused several times, her hurt and anger from her head to her heart to her lips was so impactful for me. I felt the same way back in 1990 when my former high school teammate was killed by a drunk driver. The driver did 30 days in jail and 5 years probation. I eventually forgave that Driver but it took several years. As the daughter finished reading her statement, I prayed to God, “Please let OUR Love change her heart One Day to Find Forgiveness in her heart for Paul when she is ready”. The second and last person to read her letter to the court was the victim’s sister. She is currently a Dayton Police officer and described what she sees on a daily basis and her Love for her sister’s Legacy. As she continued to read she turned her attention to the defendant Paul Ivkovich who was the driver who killed her sister. She asked the court for No jail time, asked that Paul surrender to the 12 Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous and she paused, holding back tears in a soft and Loving words, she said the words, “WE FORGIVE YOU PAUL”. As she said those 4 words, I got goose bumps all over my body, tears in my eyes and thanked God for his grace in that court room his Love from her heart to everyone. Only by the Grace of God, his Love, my family and children’s Love that I am 3 years and 7 months sober. Brian Donoher, son of former UD Head Coach and Coaching Legend Don Donoher, helps keep me sober today. 1st John 4:16 “God is Love”.
As the judge handed down the 4 year sentence and walked to the court officer to be escorted to jail, He thanked the Judge. Friends, family filed out of court, two Members of the UD family were present in that court room and could care less who was or would judge them because LOVE has No Limits. As I finish writing this story, UD has beaten Richmond 75-59 and UD fans are leaving the arena. I pray to God that Not ONE of the 13,455 fans makes the same Choice I made in March 17. 1990 with my friend Chris or Mr. Ivkovich April 30, 2015. Difference between my story and Paul’s….my friend Chris Lived….I am Grateful to be Alive to tell Our story today. The car, the bank account and House will not be in my coffin……We will be Judged by our LOVE and FORGIVENESS. God has not given up on YOU/ME/Us, it’s My/Our Choice not to give up on Paul or the victim’s family either……1st Corinthians Chapter 13 Verse 8…LOVE NEVER FAILS!