For Jerry's first birthday, Stacey buys him a motorized toy car large enough to ride on the sidewalk. He's a happy little boy. A picture shows him grinning as if he's just been told some wonderful secret. And he's still very small. Stacey is afraid he'll take after his great-uncle Jerry, who stands less than four feet tall.
Early this morning, 550 miles away, Lions defensive end Reggie Rogers loads up on beer and gin at Big Art's Paradise Lounge in Pontiac, Mich. With a blood-alcohol level of about 0.15, well above the threshold for intoxication, he slams his red Jeep Cherokee broadside into a Plymouth Horizon that contains Kenneth Willett, 19; Kelly Ess, 18; and Dale Ess, 17. The crash breaks Rogers's neck and nearly severs his right thumb. All three teenagers, who are also drunk, are killed. Rogers will be convicted of negligent homicide and serve 12½ months in prison.
December 24, 1988
The New York Times publishes a story about a new gadget designed to stop drunken driving. The ignition interlock requires would-be drivers to give a breath sample. The sample is analyzed for alcohol. If there's too much, the interlock prevents the car from starting. Already 11 states have passed laws approving the device, and more than 200 judges have ordered convicted drunken drivers to use it. The article quotes Gregory Stevenson, a 28-year-old car salesman in Pennsylvania, who calls the device a "godsend" and says, "The interlock is giving me a year to get used to functioning without drinking and driving."
April 8, 1991
Bill Shoemaker, perhaps the best jockey in history, drinks some beer after a round of golf and drives his Ford Bronco over a 50-foot embankment near San Dimas, Calif., breaking his neck and damaging his spinal cord. Authorities measure his blood-alcohol content at .13. A friend tells The Orange County Register, "I've seen him drink a lot more and drive." Shoemaker, 59, will spend his final 12 years in a wheelchair.
March 20, 1993
Jerry Brown Jr. is five years old when his mother and father separate. Jerry Sr. will later accept the blame. He stayed out too long throwing darts, shooting pool, drinking. Jerry Jr. gets by with attention from his mother and grandmother. He still seems happy. Grandma, can I help you? he asks. Do you need anything? I can take this trash out.
March 22, 1993
At Little Lake Nellie in central Florida, three pitchers for the Indians take a boat ride in the dark. Two are sober; the third, Tim Crews, is drunk. He drives too fast and slams into a wooden pier at head level. Bob Ojeda survives, though part of his scalp is torn off. Steve Olin is killed. Crews dies from his injuries a few hours later. Each dead man leaves a wife and three children.