March 29, 2001
Statement by Teresa Earnhardt
I am pleased and grateful for what has happened here in Tallahassee today.
I would like to recognize and say thank you to Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Senators Jim King and Bill Posey, Representatives Jeff Miller and Randy Johnson, and most of all, the tens of thousands of people in Florida and elsewhere who spoke out in defense of my family's fundamental right to privacy.
We live in a time where information can be transmitted around the world instantly, but often without respect or a full understanding of the consequences.
We have said from the beginning that if one news organization is granted access to these private and painful images of my husband, others will request access, and sooner or later, they would be published on the Internet and elsewhere. Even now there are others, including a college newspaper and a Web site, attempting to get their hands on Dale's autopsy photos.
In fact, today I've just learned that a web site had the indecency to go ahead and post graphic photos taken at the autopsies of two other NASCAR drivers.
We hope this new law will stop these organizations, and others, from further exploiting such tragic events.
We also hope that this law will serve as future protection to other families who might be exposed to the same pain and suffering that we have. We expect that this law will serve to protect and preserve dignity in the face of tragedy.
Our family has suffered unimaginably since February 18th, and even more so, as a result of this violation of our right to privacy.
But today, we are reassured in the knowledge that something positive has emerged from this incredible ordeal. Today all Floridians are winners because of this new law.
In closing, my family wishes to once more express its overwhelming gratitude to Governor Bush and the Florida legislature for letting the voices of the people -- and the voice of reason -- be heard.
We were impressed by the decisive and efficient action taken by the lawmakers of this state. We hope and trust that similar bills, now being considered in Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and elsewhere, achieve the same quick and thoughtful passage as the bill in Florida.
Through the grace of God, Dale was blessed with a very special talent.
We too have been given the strength to get through the most difficult chapter in our lives. I hope that the media will now allow us to let the healing process begin. Thank you very much.