THE daughter of a truck driver, who Joe Biden wrongly accused of being drunk at the wheel in a crash that killed his wife and baby, says the presidential nominee's "blatant lie" devastated her family.
Deborah Criddle, of Delaware, told The Sun that she wants Biden to publicly set the record straight and clear the name of her late father, Curtis Dunn.
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Deborah started watching the first presidential debate last week but, according to her, one particular moment upset her deeply and prompted her to turn off her television within minutes.
"Everybody knows he's a liar," Biden told millions of viewers about Donald Trump, who was diagnosed with coronavirus on Thursday.
Deborah, who is keen to point out she has complete sympathy for Biden's loss, said the statement made her feel "sick to (her) stomach".
“Biden has got a lot of nerve calling Trump a liar," she said.
“That’s the pot calling the kettle black."
Biden has made several public references to Curtis "allegedly" being drunk when his truck-trailer and another car collided, tragically killing the politician's first wife Neilia, 30 and their one-year-old daughter, Naomi, in December 1972. The incident left Biden heartbroken.
The couple's other children, Beau and Hunter Biden, aged four and three at the time, were also seriously injured but survived the crash.
"A tractor-trailer, a guy who allegedly – and I never pursued it – drank his lunch instead of eating his lunch, broadsided my family and killed my wife instantly and killed my daughter instantly and hospitalized my two sons," Biden told a crowd in 2007.
In 2001, the week following the September 11 attacks, Biden delivered a speech at the University of Delaware to a crowd of more than 2,700.
He told them not to be afraid and that he felt for the people who had received a call saying their loved ones were dead, just like that, there in the morning, now gone forever, Politico reports.
Once, he said, he had gotten that call.
“It was an errant driver who stopped to drink instead of drive and hit – a tractor-trailer – hit my children and my wife and killed them,” he said.
Delaware Superior Court Judge Jerome O. Herlihy, who oversaw the police investigation as chief prosecutor, said there was no evidence supporting Biden’s claim and Dunn was cleared of any wrongdoing.
“The rumor about alcohol being involved by either party, especially the truck driver (Dunn), is incorrect,” Herlihy said in 2008.
One of Dunn's seven children, Pamela Dunn Hamill, previously told CBS that Biden called her the following year and "apologized for hurting my family in any way."
“So we accepted that – and kind of end of story from there," she said in 2009.
But, according to Deborah, Biden never publicly corrected his claims and that has weighed heavily on those who knew and loved Curtis and want his reputation restored.
However, CBS News reported that in 2008, a spokesman for Biden said that the senator "fully accepts the Dunn family's word that these rumors were false."
“I don't think an apology set the story straight but I do feel that (Biden) needs to make some kind of statement that he was very wrong for saying that a trucker drank his lunch instead of eating it," she told The Sun on Wednesday.
“It tears my heart out that dad’s dead and can’t defend himself."
Curtis was never aware of Biden’s comments as he died in 1999 before the accusations were made.
But the fatal crash impacted him beyond measure. Deborah said the once "happy man" became “very sad” and was “never the same again”.
"Just imagine knowing you'd taken two lives," she said.
"It was just such a tragedy for everybody, especially the Biden family."
Biden's office did not respond to questions regarding Deborah's claims when contacted by The Sun.
THE DAY OF THE CRASH
Neilia had been taking her three children to buy a Christmas tree when she missed a stop sign and the incident occurred at an intersection in Hockessin, Delaware, investigators later determined.
According to Deborah, Curtis flipped his own truck trying to avoid the oncoming car and inadvertently almost killed himself. He “crawled out” to try and save the Bidens, she said.
But for Neilia and Naomi, it was too late. Biden had been elected to the US Senate for the first time just weeks earlier. But he didn’t want to work. He wanted to be with his boys. He took the train every day from Delaware to D.C. and back for months.
The years that followed were understandably incredibly difficult for Biden as he tried to balance the responsibilities of raising his sons on his own with the new pressures that came with being a member of the US Senate.
“For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide,” he revealed at an event for US military service members in 2012.
"Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts, because they'd been to the top of the mountain and they just knew in their heart they'd never get there again, that it was … never going to be that way ever again.
"Keep thinking what your husband or wife would want you to do. Keep thinking what it is, and keep remembering those kids of yours, or him or her the rest of their life, blood of my blood, bone of my bone, because, folks, it can and will get better."
Curtis was also haunted by the tragedy for many years, according to Deborah.
“The little girl died and he could never get the picture out of his mind because he also had young kids,” she told The Sun through tears.
“(When he got home) everybody was in shock. Mom was crying. Dad wouldn’t speak. He was very solemn. He was just different.
“(The crash) didn’t ruin his life but it devastated it.
"It killed his spirit.”
She said her father was “such a good man” who loved his wife and children deeply. According to her, Curtis would have “felt sorry” for Biden even though “he did him wrong” by perpetuating the false accusations.
“Dad loved us kids to death and my sisters were little at the time… he would have been sympathetic because Biden lost his wife and child,” she said.
In 2015, Biden's son Beau, who had survived the crash, died of a rare strain of brain cancer. Biden's grief-stricken past has influenced his priorities in the Senate and played a prominent role in his presidential campaign. His empathy and capacity to connect with bereaved voters are often cited as among his most distinctive qualities as a politician.
"He knows struggle, hardship, perseverance and has come out the other side," Jim Margolis, who produced campaign advertising for Biden, said. "Biden's ability to talk to people simply and compassionately, to listen as well as speak, to credibly say, 'I've been there, too' is a particularly powerful contrast."
But Deborah said she has "no idea" where Biden got the misinformation about her father from or why he dispersed it.
"My dad never really drank (alcohol)," she said.
"Mom used to pack dad's lunch. They had so many kids we couldn't afford lots. Money was tight. Mom and dad never went out and socialized because it was all about us kids.
“(Investigators) went over my father’s truck with a fine-tooth comb, nothing was wrong. They investigated dad and, nothing.”
Curtis continued his work as a truck driver until he retired.
“He was a great father," Deborah said.
"He was always for the underdog. If you needed help, dad was always there. Not just for us kids, for everybody."
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