Soldier's Widow Thanks Community for Its Support
Note: Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, represents Lauren Beougher and the estate of Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Beougher
By Rachel Myers
She was shaking.
The tears overcame her more than once, especially when asked to recall her best memories of her 23-year-old husband, Army Sgt. Daniel Beougher.
Lauren Beougher was there that night. It was Dec. 8. They were driving along Hancock Bridge Parkway. There was an accident. Her husband was killed. She was left in critical condition
The driver of the other car, Ashley East, 25, walked away. East is now in jail, awaiting trial on seven felonies relating to the crash.
On Monday, Lauren Beougher, in her first public statement since that night, offered a long list of thanks to those who aided her journey to recovery. She also announced she was determined her husband’s life would not be lost in vain: she plans to channel her grief into activism.
She doesn’t remember the screeching tires or the shattering of glass. East’s Ford F-350 pickup slammed into Daniel Beougher’s Jeep Cherokee. The accident report said she shared a 12-pack of beer with friends earlier that evening.
Lauren Beougher can’t recall the days and weeks leading up to the crash. She wishes she could —her husband had just returned home after his third assignment overseas, his second in Iraq.
Standing amid family and friends at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Park in Fort Myers on Monday, she faced a wall of local media cameras.
“He wasn’t just my hero, he was my country’s hero,” she said, her voice quivering. “I do not want his life to be just another statistic. If his life wouldn’t have been taken by the criminal act of a reckless driver, he would have made a difference.”
The two were married in July 2006. He left for deployment a month later. He returned October 2007, and was killed just three months later. In her grief, she misses little things — cupping his face in her hands, staring into his “baby blue eyes,” and hearing his voice over the long distance line.
“He was amazing in every aspect,” she said. “He was the best soldier I ever knew. He was the love of my life. He was my soul mate. I’ll never meet another person like him.” Though she is still riding the roller coaster of emotions — sadness, anger and bitterness — Beougher announced she is dedicating her life to educating the public about the devastation of drunk driving. She plans to speak at high schools and eventually write a book.
“If I can save one life from a drunk driver,” she said, “Then I’ve made a difference.”
East is in Lee County Jail, charged with two counts each of leaving the scene of accident involving injury, leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, driving without a driver’s license and causing serious injury or death and one count of leaving the scene of an accident involving death. Her bond has been denied, and she is scheduled to appear in court again July 22.
“I just hope justice will be served and everyone responsible will get their punishment,” Beougher said.
Also at the park Monday was Ken Patton, one of five local Vietnam veterans who, moved by her story, organized a cook-out/fundraiser to help Beougher with expenses. They raised $1,900, and presented it to her Monday.
“This tragedy hit us,” Patton said. “... It never should have happened.”