When Shannon Hamilton’s teenage daughter died in a car crash, he was devasted. In an effort to save other lives, Shannon decided to take action. Cecily Mcree Hamilton, a 16-year-old girl, died in a car accident while she was driving with her boyfriend along a bridge in the dangerous city of Gainesville, Georgia. The guardrail on the bridge was dangerously low, which resulted in the teen’s car falling off of the bridge and crashing below. Cecily tragically died in this incident.
“I gave her a kiss and told her I loved her. Hugged her freezing body and said goodbye,” the father, who was clearly distraught, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Shannon Hamilton was there when police retrieved his daughter’s car from the freezing river. Her body had been underwater for too long and she’d been deprived of oxygen to her brain, causing organ failure.
Hamilton’s daughter and boyfriend passed away after falling off a bridge. The guardrail was too low for them, so he decided to take it upon himself to make sure this doesn’t happen again by constructing a sturdier one in his hometown of Georgia.
Although local officials agreed that the guardrail on the bridge was dangerously low—and this played a role in the deaths of two teenagers – it took them an excessive amount of time to erect a new one. Instead of increasing the size of the guardrail, their plans got stuck in an unending approval process. So, Hamilton took it upon himself to make change where he saw fit.
“Every day that goes by is another day that we’re risking a life that goes into that creek,” he stated.
Hamilton drove his own excavator to the bridge so he could start fixing the guardrail. He decided to take matters into his own hands because he felt like the local government wasn’t doing enough to prevent more accidents from happening. By repairing the guardrail, he hoped to save lives and prevent others from falling into the river below.
Hamilton planned to construct a berm to keep cars from toppling over the bridge’s edge while government officials got their work done in order to increase the size of the guardrail. This would protect future people from experiencing the same tragedy that Hamilton’s family and Cecily’s boyfriend’s family went through.
When Hamilton attempted to build the berm, local police quickly arrived and arrested him in front of his son.
“They had to do it,” he stated. “They had no choice.”
After Hamilton posted bail, he received an outpouring of support from the local community. He was trying to make a change that would benefit everyone who crossed the bridge by making it safer.
Shannon Hamilton will always have the crime of breaking city ordinances on his record, but he is content because knows he did what was necessary to save lives. In addition, he started giving speeches at his daughter’s high school to raise awareness about safe driving and traffic deaths.
“Tomorrow’s never promised,” he stated. “It’s the way I’m grieving, and I’m staying positive to get through the days.”