Chris Jordan was killed while he was riding in a Jeep Grand Cherokee when the driver, under the influence of alcohol, mistook a boat landing onto Miller Lake for the roadway that they were traveling on.
When the Jeep hit the 48 degree water, the 6 passengers scrambled to open the doors of the fast sinking vehicle. Chris, seated in the back seat in the middle instinctively leaped into the rear cargo compartment to escape the rising water. Unfortunately the rear hatch doesn't open from the inside. An hour and a half later the police freed his body from the Jeep. All the other boys survived.
The young man that killed Chris that night wasn't a habitual drunk. He wasn't even a heavy drinker. That night his blood alcohol level was .10. Many people weren't even immediately aware that he was under the influence. This should tell us that any one of us could, if we're not aware of our alcohol use, kill another or ourselves.
"It is a pain that you can't imagine, you can't comprehend, and I pray you never know what I've gone through" says Chris's father Jon Jordan. "I imagined many things that I would be doing on my boy's 21st birthday, picking out a coffin for him was certainly not one of them"
Jon has done a lot of work since his son was killed two days before he was to turn 21. He has spoken about this incredible tragedy many, many times to DWI offenders, and students all around the state.
As I spoke with Jon over breakfast in preparation for this story, it became clear what he was speaking about today was hope. "I don't want anyone to get the impression that I'm somehow over my sons death. It hurts, it hurts every day, but there are people out there today that need to know that there is Hope".
What Jon has learned, is that even in the middle of the pain, in the deepest darkness of the hell, he still has the ability to make a choice. "I've seen too many people live in the hate, live in the anger. The longer you live there the harder it is to pull yourself back."
"In the months and years following Chris's death, I wanted to be angry, I wanted to hate. The driver of that car didn't deserve my forgiveness. He killed my son. . . . I learned that the forgiveness wasn't for the boy who was driving that night, it was for me. Whether he deserved it or not, I did. I wasn't going to be able to let go of the hate until I forgave, and made the choice to live".
One of the last greeting cards that Chris gave his father included a personal note inside that read; 'thank you for being you', as though Chris was helping his father by saying; 'don't forget the lessons you taught me'!
When Chris was growing up, like every father Jon dreamed of what his son would grow to become. A doctor, a lawyer, a police officer a businessman. The fact that he was killed before his potential was realized was a painful blow to those dreams. But each time Jon mentioned Chris's name, spoke of his love for hunting, sports and the gals, he spoke as though he had realized that his son had indeed grown to be exactly what he wanted him to be. . . A good man.