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July 28, 2017

12.21.06, Denota

name: Denota
email: djones@msnbc.com

story: It sounds as though the "victim" being 20 years old was also drinking!!!!!!! I smell some bad hypocrisy in a tragic situation.

But whether the driver was 18 and underage and the victim, also an underage drinker, they both should have had PARENTS who held them each responsible and taught them differently.

It is also our own personal responsibility to not be drinking underage in public places whether driving or not. It could've easily been the underage 20 year old victim driving home and killing someone.

Don't the parents see the irony in their crusade? Please take some responsibility that your son played a role in his own tragic unfortunate situation here. He shouldn't have been drinking in public and underage just like the driver of the car.

Truly just sad that the parents don't see the irony and hypocrisy of their "crusade" for justice!

Jamie McWilliams' Response:

Ms. Jones,

Thank-you for taking the time to email me. I will have your message posted to the board, along with this response. I don't usually post my responses, but then, I don't typically get emails from someone that refers to us as hypocrites and questions who the "victim" was in Justin's death.

Justin was my son and I can assure you that as I speak to kids about the choices they make, it certainly includes the poor choice that my son made by walking back on the property that night. A poor choice yes, but not one that should have cost him his life. And yes, my son was drinking. Yes, it was wrong, no it isn't acceptable nor legal. He was only 20-years old, and just beginning to grow up. As I have said time and again, I suspect that if my son had that choice to make over, he wouldn't have walked back to that party, given the outcome. I realize that tragedies happen, I just can't fathom running someone over and not stopping. When you hit someone ....you should stop. It is the right thing to do! Which, is why there is now a law in place in the state of Florida that will seek accountability should there be a hit and run accident on public or private property! The Justin McWilliams Act isn't about blame, but rather accountability. The 165 Legislators and the Governor of Florida agreed that there should have been some type of accountability in this matter.

I am not sure if you are a parent yourself, but, I can only hope that your children (now or in the future) move through life mistake-free. This mistake or rather poor choice, cost my son his life. Thus, I would imagine that this would fall under accountability, in your eyes. The boy that hit my son will be graduating from a Alabama University. He will have to deal with his actions at another point in his life, be it now or later.

Ms. Jones, there is no hypocrisy in this family. I have held credibility with the press, our community and in various forums, because I have been open and honest about the choices made that late night, early April 2002, morning. The poor choices that were made have already affected many lives. We raise our children to the best of our ability, but they ultimately make their own choices when they leave home. In essence, you can't follow them 24-hours a day. The legal drinking age in this state is 21-years old, no matter who you are.

For the record, there will be no criminal accountability in this matter. However, we didn't want other families to go through the pain and devastation that we did. Hence, the law change. Justice for Justin now stands for the education of our youth on the dangers of making poor choices and organ and tissue donation awareness. Now, do you see the irony in this Mission Statement? It is about saving lives either through telling our story or by someone becoming an organ donor and saving a life in that way.

Rather then remained consumed in grief, I have chosen to channel this tragedy for the better and hopefully save another teenager from making a poor choice. Again, I don't know if you are a parent yourself, but given your lack of compassion, you don't appear to be a mother, or you wouldn't be so inclined to rush to judgment. I have received thousands of emails from those that have known Justin all his life, parents that have followed our story and strangers that have stumbled across our website. They are typically positive or even inquisitive, but rarely judgmental. However, this is America, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion and/or feelings.

I would only ask that if you know of a teenager or young adult that may learn from Justin's story that this type of tragedy can indeed happen to anyone, no matter who they are, that you forward the website and tell of this story. That is truly my soul purpose for my ongoing education of our youth, and their families.

Thank-you again for taking the time to email me. Should you have further questions about Justin's story, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Have a safe and peaceful New Year....

Jamie McWilliams

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