A father's pain: Losing a daughter too soon

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Don't drink and drive. It's a message we have all heard hundreds of times, if not more. But when you're behind the wheel, all it takes is a split second for life to change completely.

Josh Sittner can speak to that. His daughter was killed in a crash involving alcohol nearly two years ago.

"It's stuff parents have nightmares about, and I literally have had dreams about losing my kids it's the worst thing you can imagine," Sittner said.

In an instant, his worst nightmare became a reality.

"Then I was faced with it, it was just a meltdown," Sittner said. "I didn't know what to do.

It started with a phone call back on August 9, 2012.

"It's probably something I'll never forget," Sittner said. "It was just, that phone call you hope you never get, and then it's just burned in your mind."

That day, his two daughters were up at Arrowrock with their mom and her boyfriend. Doctors told him on the phone there had been an accident, and that his youngest daughter, 4-year-old Pearl, had drowned.

"The car got stuck halfway down the mountain and everybody got out of the car but Pearl, so she was still in the car," he said. "When the car went the rest of the way down she was in the car alone, and there's not much a 4-year-old can do to save herself in a car."

Police said the man driving the car, David Persons, was under the influence. He pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter for the crash.

"If you look at the pictures of Pearl and think, that little girl's not here anymore, I mean, she was beautiful," Sittner said.

He and several other families gathered Friday at the annual Mothers Against Drunk Driving victim and survivor tribute to celebrate the lives of those who they've lost, and comfort one another as they continue to move forward. Sittner said Pearl has given him the push to keep moving on with his life.

"The way i looked at it was, Pearl was an inspiration for me," he said. "I wanted her to look down and be proud of her dad for taking care of her sister, keeping it together."

But he says even time, can't fully heal a wound so deep.

"I think time makes you feel better, but it's just like a real wound," Sittner said. "There's still a scar left when it's done healing. So time does heal wounds but there are still scars and so therefore it never goes away."

Sittner said he wants people to be smart, and think twice before hopping behind the wheel if they've been drinking.