Two Men Forge Unlikely Friendship After Tragic Georgia Car Accident
GEORGIA – A story online at meaww.com reveals an unlikely friendship forged by two men affected by a tragic Georgia car accident that took place in 2006. One of the men lost his wife and unborn child, and the other caused the accident that killed them.*
On October 2, 2006, EMT and rookie firefighter Matt Swatzell, then 20 years old, was driving home in Dacula, Georgia, after a long string of shifts with little sleep. He fell asleep at the wheel and crossed the centerline of the roadway, crashing into the vehicle of 30-year-old June Fitzgerald. June, who was seven months pregnant, tragically died in the crash. The unborn child did not survive. June’s 1-year-old daughter was in the car at the time, and she was not seriously injured.
Swatzell was ordered by a court to pay a fine and perform community service (crashes caused by drowsy driving are misdemeanors in Georgia), and June’s husband, Erik Fitzgerald, did not push for a harsher penalty. The two men were both consumed with grief — one raising a daughter without his wife and the other coping with immense guilt.
On the two-year anniversary of the crash, the two happened to bump into each other at a grocery store. Fitzgerald followed Swatzell out to his car in the parking lot and found Swatzell crying.
“He was just bawling,” Fitzgerald said. “So I just walked up, and I just hugged him. Sometimes, things are best said with no words.”
But Fitzgerald did say something — words that lifted immeasurable weight off Swatzell’s shoulders. Fitzgerald told Swatzell that he forgave him.
“That was the biggest relief I’d ever felt,” Swatzell said. “He just said from the start that he forgives me. Just hearing him say those words, it just impacted my life completely.”
The two talked for a while that day and pledged to remain in touch. And surprisingly, they did. The two have forged a close bond that brings them together often, even on holidays. Both men say they feel like they were supposed to be in each other’s lives.
“In moments where tragedy happens or even hurt, there are opportunities to either demonstrate grace or exact vengeance,” Fitzgerald said, remembering a sermon he’d heard in the past. “Here was an opportunity where I could do that. And I chose to demonstrate grace.”
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