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Compassion fills family of victim in DWI fatality

The woman, in her mid-20s, was sobbing as she approached family members at the wake for Richard N. Moore last week.

She had seen, in her rearview mirror, the horrific head-on crash that took Moore's life last Sunday evening on the Niagara Thruway. She had swerved just in time to avoid the oncoming car that struck his vehicle and killed him instantly.

So she was crying, as she walked up to Moore's mother, Carol, at his wake.

"It's my fault your son is dead," the young woman told her.

"I said, 'No, honey, it's not your fault,' " Carol Moore replied. "If you hadn't swerved, you both might be dead."

Then Mrs. Moore told the young woman that her son Rick always wanted to fly and be a superhero.

"You probably have made him so happy in heaven," she added. "He's up there, flying, knowing he's a superhero, knowing that he saved [someone's] life. You made Rick a hero. Now you're a part of our family forever."

Compassion and forgiveness have been the main staples of the reaction of Rick Moore's large family this past week, following the death of the popular 43-year-old Town of Tonawanda resident.

Moore, his family recounted, was a Persian Gulf War veteran, an electronics and computer whiz, a Superman memorabilia collector, a man who prided himself on mending fences and giving advice to any family member in need and a sensitive man who toughened up a bit during his nine years in the Navy.

State troopers have charged Carrie Sanders, 26, of Buffalo, with driving while intoxicated, accusing her of driving the wrong way on the southbound Niagara Thruway in the crash that killed Moore instantly at about 5:50 p.m. last Sunday, near Hertel Avenue.

Her case is expected to be sent to an Erie County grand jury, which could consider manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide charges.

"Our heart goes out to her family," said Michael Moore, one of Rick's five siblings. "I don't hate her. I do hate what she did. That's a tragedy for her and a tragedy for her family.

"I don't know which is worse," he added. "We get Rick's memory frozen in time. They have to go on with her. This is a woman who has killed somebody through a very reckless deed."

Grieving Moore family members believe that the car heading the wrong way on the Niagara Thruway could have killed more people than just Moore, who was alone, driving to work.

"Everyone we spoke to said it was bound to happen. Somebody was going to get killed," said Mark Moore, another of Rick's three brothers. "Rick took a bullet for the community. There could have been a family behind him."

That would have been important for Moore, a married man with a young daughter and two stepsons.

>Family ties stronger

During Moore's wake, funeral and other gatherings since his death, family members have worn wash-off Superman tattoos on their hands, in honor of Moore's love of the superhero.

"That's who he was," said Butch Seefried, his brother-in-law. "As a kid, he ran around the house with a Superman cape."

Why Superman?

"Whenever anyone was in trouble, Superman would come out of the skies, swoop in and take care of everything magically," said one of Moore's sisters, Kathy Seefried. "That was Rick."

Family members described him as the big man with the bigger heart. A man who always was there to provide a shoulder for someone to cry on. A man whose death has brought his family even closer.

On the night of Rick Moore's death, one of his stepsons, Kyle Kryszak, 20, became so angry at the news that he broke two knuckles punching his car in frustration. He went over to Mark Moore's home, where the family had gathered, but he was shaking so badly that Mark Moore had to help him inside.

"They helped me realize he's not gone," Kryszak said. "He's stronger than ever. The whole family is stronger than ever. They're just one huge knot; they all have their own roles in helping each other out."

The crash occurred while Rick Moore, a customer-service representative for Time Warner Cable, was driving to work for his 6 p.m. shift. As he often did while driving to work, he called his mother on his hands-free car phone. On this evening, he called to tell her he had burned a DVD for her to watch.

>Cautious driver

Five minutes later, he was gone.

Family members have learned that neither driver in the fatal crash had hit the brakes. And the driver in front of Moore has told the family that his car "did not flinch one iota."

"So he didn't see anything," Mark Moore said. "It's easier for us, to know that he wasn't scared. I would never want to see him suffer."

There was an irony of sorts for the family, having Rick Moore die in a car crash. They described him as a laid-back, cautious driver. He had taught his younger brother, Mark, and stepson Kyle how to drive, always cautioning them to use their three mirrors and place their hands at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock on the steering wheel.

>Raising awareness

The family -- including Moore's wife, Gale; daughter Kiera, 6; and stepsons Kyle and Neil Kryszak -- hopes to use his death to raise awareness about the horrors of drunken driving.

Kyle Kryszak sees a message for his generation, that no matter how much fun it might seem to go out drinking and then later drive, it's not worth it. It's not acceptable.

Family members haven't figured out exactly what they're going to do to raise consciousness about drunken driving. But when the large Moore brood gets together in a family powwow and the suggestions start flying, they'll come up with something.

"I have to trust in God that there is a reason for all of this," Michael Moore said. "It's not for me to wrestle with it. It's up to me to move forward with the message about drunken driving."

e-mail: gwarner@buffnews.com

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