Editor’s Note: I met Michael Ghaemi about 18 months ago while helping an Irvine Persian-American Community with community outreach for several public service efforts to better connect the community with city and county resources. Mr. Ghaemi was the driver of a car that was struck by an alleged drunk driver; the accident killed his daughter’s friend, Ashton Sweet. When I realized who Michael was, I told him I thought of him often in the wake of the accident as I have given countless rides home for my children’s friends. He is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
Michael showed a calm determination to make something positive of this horrific experience and provides considerable time and support for the city’s young people. He’s a great father. He’s one of the most humble people I have ever met.
After reading all about the accident and realizing Ashton Sweet was killed the same weekend two years ago, I reached out to him and asked for his thoughts in the wake of this weekend’s accident that claimed the lives of five of the city’s teenagers including two sisters. His comments are below. We’re grateful to Michael for sharing his thoughts with our readers.
I just turned 50 this past week-end and ironically yet somehow mystically feel that I have reached a milestone that was not destined to be conquered. I carry an intense level of self-induced confidence. I lean and rely on the life experiences endured over the years, and, wholeheartedly yet still carefully, embrace the emotional being that I have truly become.
With all that however, I feel very inadequately equipped to deal with catastrophes and severe emotional shocks the ruthless dealer of destiny occasionally subjects us to. The tragic accident and early passing of five Irvine Teenagers last Sunday brought many tears to my eyes and awakened a sense of agony that has been idle just below the surface since my own dark and painful encounter two years ago. It brought back memories of an emotional rollercoaster that we have been on for two years. And while the memories of that night will haunt us for years to come, it keeps us connected to our communities, friends and well wishers.
Today we will be commemorating the second anniversary of Ashton’s passing and while placing a daisy at the bottom of the tree known to her friends as the Tree of Life, we will also shed tears for the other teenagers who so suddenly and prematurely joined their maker. While expressing our emotions with Aston’s parents and offering our unconditional love, we will ask for patience for the parents and friends of the newly departed innocent souls.
On a final note, as a survivor of a deadly encounter and a father of two teen agers who were understandably traumatized by what happened to us two years ago, I feel uniquely qualified to make an observation and presumptuously recommend additional services be provided to support the teens who have been directly or indirectly affected by this accident and when tragic events happen to our community in the future.
It has taken me nearly two years to loosen this invisible grip of despair and sadness, and even so I can’t even imagine what kind of healing a fragile teenage mind would require. As a community of committed and intellectually mature people, we owe it to our children.