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Hamilton, MD

Page history last edited by Forgive To Give Project 11 years, 11 months ago

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Father Forgives Man Who Caused Daughter's Death

http://wjz.com/specialreports/forgiveness.tragedy.jessica.2.863608.html

Nov 13, 2008 - By Denise Koch - BALTIMORE (WJZ) ―

 

Could you forgive the person responsible for the death of your daughter? For most people, the answer is no.

 

But Denise Koch met two extraordinary men whose lives were forever changed by tragedy and forgiveness.

 

Jessica Vetter, 20, had a bright future ahead of her when tragedy struck in Timonium on April 20, 2007. In that instant, Jessica's father and the man who caused her death were linked for life.

 

Jessica was on a motorcycle at the time of the accident.

 

Michael Jacoby says he doesn't remember a lot about the night, except he had been drinking with pals. He was on his way home to study, when he made a fatal choice.

 

According to the accident report, Michael was driving on York Road. The light had just turned yellow. He tried to make a left turn on a service road when he smashed into a motorcycle, launching both bikers.

 

"She was pronounced brain-dead at the time. I asked the doctors, 'Is there any possibility, are there any miracles?' No, there were none," said Jeffrey Vetter, Jessica's father.

 

Jessica's death left Jeffrey consumed with anger and rage.

 

"I was mean, I was nasty, I was angry, I was revengeful. I was all of that," he said.

 

For a year, Jeffrey stewed in his hatred. Then, in the courtroom, the man who killed his daughter faced him and asked for only one thing: his forgiveness.

 

Jeffrey watched as Michael was led away to prison, convicted of vehicular manslaughter. He'd been a good kid and had just graduated from college.

Now two families were left destroyed.

 

Jeffrey realized there was only one way to save them all. He went to prison and told Michael he forgave him.

 

"I think he was shocked. It was coming from his heart because...he said, 'Thank you. That's all I really needed," said Jeffrey.

 

Michael says the experience has changed him.

 

"It has given me an appreciation for everything. And I think I have gotten a lot more compassion just toward everyone in general," said Michael.

 

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Michael and Jeffrey stood together to dedicate a 'forgiveness garden' at a church in Hamilton. Michael was able to be there because Jeffrey appealed to the judge for mercy and got his 18-month sentence reduced to just four.

 

"So I can say one thing, when you forgive -- and I highly recommend to anyone who can do it -- it relieves you from an angry world, from a dark world. It's a hard thing to do, but once you've done it, you realize there is a God and that God is helping you," said Jeffrey.

 

Together, Jeffrey and Michael will complete Michael's 400 hours of community service. Then plan to speak at schools about what happened that fateful night.

(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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