These were our Victim Impact Statement. Very Long.
My name is Rachel Ludwig. I am Richard William Ludwig Jr’s wife. I want to tell you a little about my Husband Richard, his family and friends call him Rick. We started dating in July of 1993 and where married on December 10th 1995. He was one of the most affectionate, caring, hopeful and supportive men I have ever known. Rick tells me he knew we where going to spend the rest of our lives together when we first meet, I didn’t see it that soon, but I’m glad he chose me. Our first child, Spencer, was born February 5th 1995. I know that was one of the happiest days of our lives. For months he would tell me he couldn’t wait for Spencer to walk so he could teach him to skate, I told Rick he would have to wait a little longer than that to teach Spencer. Well, he did, he waited until Spencer was about 18 months old to teach him to skate. Rick said Spencer was a natural born skater. Along with skating they loved going on long bike rides together. Rick would put Spencer in his bike seat on the back of his bike and they would be gone for hours. Our second child, Rebekah was born on November 20th 1997. That was the second happiest day of our lives. Rebekah was the red headed little girl Rick always wanted. He melts every time she blinks those beautiful blue eyes at him. Rick always has a hard time saying no to her. She is undoubtedly daddy’s little girl. So when I want something I tell Rebekah because I know he will do any thing for her. We moved to Jacksonville in August of 2003. Rick’s family lives here and the schools are much better here than in Orlando. We started a lawn business a few months after we moved here. It was a sacrifice, but has always been Rick’s dream to work for himself and be able to support his family at the same time. In January of 2004 we where offered an unbelievable opportunity. We jumped at the offer. The work started flowing in around the second week of January. It was so much work we had to purchase a second work truck and hire 4 more employees. Things where going very well for us. Until February when my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Rick was remarkable during this time. Some weeks I was in Orlando for 3 or 4 days at a time for my mother’s surgery or taking her to appointments to see different doctors. Never once did Rick ever complain about taking up my duties of mother along with his own. He was always caring and supportive of my mother’s needs and mine at the time. On June 5th2004 our lives changed forever. At the age of 28 I was almost left to care for 2 children on my own. I will never forget the terror and helplessness I felt when my neighbor called and told me Rick had been in an accident with her husband and his friend. I will never forget the sight of the accident scene, or how heartbroken I was to call Rick’s parents in the middle of the night to tell them what happened to there only son and ask them to take me to Shands hospital because I didn’t know how to get there. I will never forget the sinking feeling in my heart and stomach when the 911 dispatcher told me my husband was in flight to the hospital. Only people on deaths door get flown to the hospital. How was I going to tell my children if there father had died? How was I going to make it through the rest of my life without him? I swear it took 10 years to get there only to be told to wait in the waiting area. After being there for about 15 to 20 minutes, Again I felt like 10 years had gone by, I was finally able to see my husband. Again I felt very helpless because he was in so much pain and I couldn’t help him. I will never forget how vulnerable he looked laying there on that cold hospital bed half naked because they cut off all his clothes and shivering from being so cold. Our third child, Rylan, was born on August 16th2005. This was a very happy day in our life but a real rude awakening as to the extent of my husband’s injuries. It hurts him to hold Rylan for any length of time. Everyday I see the hurt and pain in his eyes because he knows the older Rylan gets the less he will be able to do with him. It’s heartbreaking to know in 5, 10, and 15 and 20 years down the road you will be in worse pain then you are now, or to know you will be very limited in the things you are able to do with your last child. Rick is the most wonderful husband. I could not have built a better husband if given that choice in life. This accident has changed my husband. He is not so willing to help people out any more. I see anger in his eyes more often than I see happiness. I see the stress of providing for us and the anguish of not being able to as well as he once did. I tell him all the time what a great husband and father he is but I know he doesn’t feel like it. I believe that once Christopher is punished over time I will see less anger, stress and helplessness in my husband’s eyes. They say time heals all wounds but as far as my husband goes time seems to be our enemy. Thank You Your Honor,Rachel Ludwig
This was my Husbands:
My name is Richard William Ludwig Jr. My wife Rachel and I have been married for 10 years. We have 3 children together. They are Spencer, he is 10 years old, Rebekah, she is 8 years old, and our newest member Rylan and he is 4 months old.I was the passenger of a vehicle that was hit by Christopher Schmit, a 17 year old drunk driver, on June 5th 2004.The injuries I suffered where a concussion, a closed head trauma and a fractured vertebra. Everyday I suffer as a result of these injuries. The pain I have in my back some days literally brings me to my knees. As a result of the closed head injury I suffer from what is called “Post Concussion Syndrome” I have what are called “ice pick headaches”, trembling of my hands, lack of concentration, short term memory loss, and depression. I take medication for the headaches, back pain and depression. I have to deal with the hand tremors and constantly write myself notes so I don’t forget to do something important. The memory loss bothers me because my wife and children have to remind me of things we talk about or things we are supposed to do. The doctor tells me that my medical expenses will range from 20 to 30 thousand dollars a year. If I decide to do some of the more aggressive treatments, it will be a tremendous amount. The doctor tells me not to expect too much improvement because the older I get the worse my problems will be physically. This accident has affected me personally by causing me to lose everything I have worked so hard for. Emotionally, I have suffered a great deal more than words can say. I have thoughts of very little self worth, very low self esteem and wondering everyday how am I going to provide a good future, a home, food, clothing and mostly security for my family and myself. The hardships this accident has caused are immeasurable by my accounts. I was/am self-employed at the time of this accident. My wife was/is a stay at home mom. At the time of this accident, I had the following payments to make to provide for my family. Rent $1550.00, Power $250.00, Water $100.00, Phones $300.00, Insurance $500.00, Vehicles $750.00, Storage $400.00 and Food $1000.00. I was able to make all of these payments before the accident. About 4 (four) months after the accident I was no longer able to make these payments. My family and myself were evicted from our house, our power was turned off, and we had to sell 2 (two) of our vehicles so they would not be repossessed. We had to apply for welfare from the state. They gave us food stamps and medical coverage, but that was all the help they could give us. I applied to the state for the “Victims Compensation Fund’ but just kept chasing my tail there because I never paid myself a weekly check so I could not prove I had any income so they would not pay me lost wages. I was prohibited by my doctor to drive myself any where for 16 (sixteen) weeks after the accident. Which means I lost my contract with the city of Jacksonville worth 1.7 million dollars over a 2 (two) year period. Along with not being able to drive my wife had to drive me to physical therapy 3 (three) to 4 (four) times per week and sit there with our 2 (two) children for about 3 (three) hours each time. For the fist half or better of going to physical therapy the drive time was about 45 (forty-five) minutes each way. If it where not for friends and family we would never have made it through this last year and a half. With the physical limitations I have I only make $500.00 (five hundred dollars) on a good month. We still have friends and family helping us out with our bills, but I believe we are becoming a burden on them. Someday I will eventually have to repay everyone the money they lent us to make ends meet. I feel like my life has taken 5 giant steps back. Everyone that was involved with this accident has been able to go on with his or her lives. I financially and emotionally can not, and have not been able to bounce back. It doesn’t seem right that for 16 weeks I couldn’t drive but the person who hit the vehicle I was in has been driving around for the past year and a half with a legal license. I do believe that Christopher should be punished for the crime he committed. I think he should have to serve some jail time, with probation until he is 21 years old and be ordered to attend some sort of AA or MADD classes and have his license revoked until his 23rd birthday. I say 23rd birthday because he has been allowed to keep his license up to this point and having a license is a privilege not a right. I also believe he should have to pay some sort of restitution, so he can see how it is to worry about having to meet financial obligations every month or risk losing your freedom.
I am now 33 years old. Before the accident I enjoyed bike riding, hiking, rollerblading, ice skating and hockey, which was a passion in my life. Most of the time I am in too much pain to do any of these things by myself or even more important with my children. When I was I high school I helped coach a hockey team where I lived. I had always hoped to coach my children’s hockey team. I can’t do this because of the constant pain I am in and honestly for fear of injuring myself worse than I have been.Overall, this crime has greatly effected my family and myself in a way I never thought possible. My son, Spencer, has been effected the greatest of all my children. He doesn’t understand why Christopher still has not been punished for what he has done after all; we teach our children there are consequences for bad choices we make in life. He doesn’t understand why I can’t play hockey with him or go on long bike rides like we used to. He asked me if I would be upset with him if when he grew up if he could beat up Christopher for what he has done. I told him that the law and God would take care of Christopher and that I don’t want to see my son in jail when he grows up because of resentment. My two older children get very nervous when we drive anywhere. Spencer’s palms get sweaty and Rebekah says her tummy hurts. I try to comfort them but how can I do that when I don’t even feel comforted myself. I was just 2 miles from my home. What I hope for the most is to get my life somewhat back to normal and see justice done. Thank You Your Honor,Richard William Ludwig Jr.
My Husband was sitting behind the driver. Absolutely no jaws of life or any other machines where used. The 17 yr olds jeep sheered the side of the truck off like this.