One Navy Team
On the night of February 25, 2019, Morgan Kinkton woke up to the ringing of her doorbell. Believing it was her husband, Aviation Machinists Mate 2nd Class Dakota “Kody” Kinkton, she opened the door only to find police.
The police informed her that her husband, who she’d expected to be home at any moment, had been badly injured and was currently in the hospital, where he’d undergo surgery in an attempt to save his life.
“I made my phone calls, got everything situated,” said Morgan. “It took me awhile to figure out what actually happened.”
Kody Kinkton had been struck by a drunk driver while riding his motorcycle home from work at Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jacksonville). The damage to Kinkton’s head and body was too much; after a week of hanging on, he passed away on March 4, 2019.
“It was a week of hell,” said Laura Kinkton, Kody’s mother. “A lot of ups and downs. Our Kody was gone the minute that accident happened.”
Kody’s life had begun on NAS Jacksonville and had been taken just outside its gate in a senseless loss of life which could have been prevented by making a single, thoughtful decision.
“It’s very tragic to me that it was not necessary,” said Laura. “Somebody's bad decision has stolen my grandkids' lives - stolen all our lives. I’ll never be the same. His stepdad will never be the same. His little brother, his kids, nobody will be the same.”
Kody’s four-year-old son Levi and two year old daughter Alli are nearly too young to remember their father, but he lives on for them with help from Laura and Morgan and through the pictures and memories that now form the man they barely met.
“Morgan’s going to miss out on a lifetime with him that they deserved together,” said Laura. “My grandkids are never going to know how much he loved them other than from what we're going to be able to tell them. I don't think that's fair.”
Everything about the Kinkton’s home is different now. Areas that used to be used for family time are now reminders that Kody isn’t there. They gather on the family couch and try to relive moments that, though once seemed small, now mean the world to them.
Morgan keeps a space where she can look over Kody’s belongings and reflect, with hopes that he’ll help her somehow.
“I talk to him all the time,” said Morgan. “He may not answer me in voice but he comes to me in my dreams, so I’ll take that.”
Kody died as the result of the irresponsible consumption of alcohol and the inherent dangers of drinking and driving.
Morgan and Laura stress that such decisions take a significantly larger toll on the families of victims than is often understood. In Kody’s case, he leaves behind a young wife, two small children, his parents and step-parents, siblings and countless friends and extended family members.
“I’d like to say that him doing that - making the right decision to not get behind the wheel - would’ve saved a life, but honestly him doing that would’ve saved hundreds of lives,” said Morgan. “His one bad decision has affected hundreds of lives.”
Before drinking and driving, consider the way your choices will impact the people furthest from you. Morgan, now a widow and single-mother of two, experienced this first hand.
“Think about the little girl's life that you are changing forever,” said Morgan. “That little one-year-old that’s going to look at a picture and cry about her daddy, because that's the life they're taking away by getting behind the wheel. They're ruining that little girl's life.”
Responsible drinking means always having a plan whenever you drink and knowing your limit - before you get there. Have a plan in place including when you will stop drinking and how you are getting home safely.
Have questions about the Navy’s alcohol abuse self-referral process? Get the facts here:
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