Mother in Mississippi shares her loss with Birch Bay family

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 21, 2014 

An hour after a deadly crash took their daughter Angela's life, Char and Tony Roderick received a knock on their door in Birch Bay that would change their lives forever.

Their daughter, and the driver who caused a head-on collision on Grandview Road that foggy October night in 2013, had been killed.

Nearly 3,000 miles away, in Gautier, Miss., Dianne Sullivan wouldn't find out her son, Wesley Martin, was dead until mid-afternoon, while driving her sick husband to the doctor. When her phone rang, the officer on the other end of the line asked her to pull to the side of the road.

"He said, 'Ms. Martin, I hate to inform you, your son Wesley has been killed in an accident in Washington state,'" said Sullivan, who remarried and took her husband's surname. "All day long my baby's been dead and I didn't have a clue."

Martin had filled two prescriptions within a day of the crash, and appeared to have taken more than the prescribed amount of both impairing medications, according to Washington State Patrol.

Martin suffered from neck and back pain, Sullivan said.

When she heard that her son also killed a young woman in the crash, Sullivan was distraught.

"I wanted to call Char, because when they told me my son Wesley had hit that girl, oh my sweet Jesus, I could not bear that," Sullivan said.

After sitting on Sullivan's phone number for weeks, Char finally decided to call her on Jan. 9.

Among the other things she had to say, Char asked if Martin had any children.

"I said, as a matter of fact he does," Sullivan said. "Today is his daughter's 19th birthday."

The crash happened exactly one month before Angela would have turned 19.

"There's no reason to be angry at his family," Char said in May. "No one can take it back. In my heart of hearts, I don't think he did it on purpose."

Sullivan initially took much of the blame, but Char wanted to make sure to let her know they did not blame her or her family.

"What gets me is (Char) is so sweet," Sullivan said. "She says I've really helped her."

Both women recognize the tragedy each family has had to face.

"When your parent dies, you're an orphan; When your spouse dies, you're a widow or widower," Sullivan said. "But when your child dies, there's no word to describe that, no matter what their age is."

Reach Samantha Wohlfeil at 360-715-2274 or Samantha.Wohlfeil@bellinghamherald.com.

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