Dad Enters Underground Drug World to Save Son

What would you do for your son?

Lie? Cheat? Steal?

After his son Daniel got into trouble with the law, Dan Cummings dedicated all of his time, all of his money and even risked his own life by entering the clandestine and dangerous world of drug dealers to save his son.

"My husband would give his life for his son," Diane Cummings said. "He really would."

Daniel Cummings had always been a good kid. But when he graduated high school in 2003 he started acting strange, lethargic and sleeping all the time.

His parents were devastated when Daniel didn't come home one morning because he was in jail for stealing a firearm. The Cummingses learned their son had become addicted to cocaine in six weeks, and Daniel had stolen a rifle to give to a drug dealer.

"Cocaine is the worst drug in the world," Daniel Cummings said. "It's corruptive. It'll take a good honest person and turn them into a lying, cheating thief."

The most devastating part of the whole ordeal was what happened after Daniel pleaded guilty to the charges.

Despite having no previous record and only being 18, Daniel was sentenced to 10 years in prison with no chance for parole.

"You put an 18-year-old in prison for 10 years, what's he going to be like when he gets out and he's 28 years old?" asked Daniel's father. "It wasn't 10 years, it was his life."

A controversial Florida law mandated Daniel's strict sentence. Before handing it down, the judge scolded Daniel, saying the gun he gave to the drug dealer could kill countless other people.

"When the judge issued that sentence, my son was a scared animal," Dan Cummings said. "It was like someone ripped my heart and soul out."

Dan Cummings could not accept his son's fate, and dedicated the next year of his life to getting Daniel out.

"It felt like I lost them both because Daniel was gone, but in a sense Dan was gone too," Diane Cummings said.

Dan, who runs a bait and tackle shop on central Florida's Gulf Coast, spent his $50,000 life savings on lawyer's fees during Daniel's first year in jail, but an appellate court denied Daniel's appeal.

Dan refused to give up hope.

"In my husband's mind, if the judge said it's because of this gun, maybe if I can get it back, he'll change his mind," Diane Cummings said.

As far as Dan Cummings could see, the only way to get the gun back was to enter the world where Daniel had sold it. So without telling the police, he began searching for Daniel's drug deal.

He was chased by dangerous people and had to pay others he had no reason to trust for information. But after months of looking, Dan Cummings successfully located Daniel's drug dealer and convinced him to sell back the gun.

At Daniel Cummings' mitigation hearing this past February, his very last chance, Dan Cummings begged the judge to reconsider. Observers said it was like a moment from a Hollywood movie.

"My heart stopped. I couldn't breathe," said teen court administrator Barbara Hinkle. "It was the most extraordinary thing I have ever seen.

"What passion, what love to go out and do that for your son … The judge was getting a little misty and one of the clerks, the tears were running down her face."

"I was hoping the stenographer was getting stuff right because he was reaching with one hand for a tissue and trying to run the machine at the same time," Dan Cummings said.

Dan Cummings told the judge how much he loved his son, and that he had risked his life to get him out of prison.

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