Kaiden Douglas Estling was a light in so many lives. He made sure he stood up to bullies at school and befriended anyone who needed someone in their corner. Kaiden had a heart of gold and would give you the shoes off his feet if you needed them.
He was my firstborn son, my best friend, and protector. He always made sure everyone had a smile on their face with his goofy antics. Kaiden was carefree, happy, so full of life and loved beyond measure.
One summer night, Kaiden was doing what any small-town Iowa teenager does, going to spend time with his friends. His moped ride to his friend’s house in the next town over would be his last. An unknown driver slammed into the back of his moped and then drove off, leaving Kaiden on the side of the road to die alone.
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My precious son was taken from me by a criminal and a coward. When we receive justice for Kaiden — and we WILL get justice for Kaiden — I want every right equal to the person convicted of taking the life of my 14-year-old child.
Did you know crime victims and their surviving family members are not guaranteed constitutional rights in Iowa? It’s absolutely appalling. As survivors, we did not ask to be thrown into the criminal justice system — we didn’t ask for any of this.
For our family, having a voice in the criminal justice processes and proceedings would mean everything.
We deserve to be present and take a stand for Kaiden. We deserve the right to be notified of all court proceedings. We must be allowed to speak at hearings, and we should be informed of any changes regarding the convicted. My son no longer has a voice, so it is up to me to speak for him.
The Estling family has received a life sentence — a life without our sweet Kaiden. The very least the Iowa court system can do is give us equal rights to the person who saddled us with this hell.
April Estling of Maynard lost her son to a hit-and-run crash. She speaks out on the crime victims’ rights amendment.