Grieving families caution against drunk driving on St. Patrick’s Day

Loved ones impacted by drunk driving are raising awareness to prevent future deaths this St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 8:21 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A innocent drink on a jovial holiday. What can it hurt?

Loved ones impacted by drunk driving are raising awareness to prevent future deaths this St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

Belinda Walker, a local mother, lost her son to a repeat drunk driver on Sept. 4. He was only 20 and a Bowling Green State University student.

“It has devastated my entire family, and I know, I know the only thing that will free of this pain, the loss of my son, is when I get to go home and see my him again,” Walker said.

Walker said the death of her son has impacted the lives of many.

“When you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, and you take a life, you’ve essentially taken multiple lives,” she said.

In the past five years, there have been 25 St. Patrick’s Day car crashes related to OVIs – operating a vehicle under the influence – in 13abc’s viewing area. These crashes have resulted in 12 injuries and one death.

Angela Castillo, Injury Prevention Nurse at the University of Toledo Medical Center, said the rhetoric around these fatal crashes must be challenged.

“We don’t really like to use the word ‘accident’ because these are all preventable things. These are things that can be prevented, so please, please be safe. We just want you to get home safe to your loved ones,” Castillo said.

The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department’s Safe Communities Coalition is partnering with a black-and-white taxi service to help bar-goers access safe rides home on St. Patrick’s Day.

Jenn Schacht, Director of Community Engagement for Black and White Transportation, said it’s not an opportunity to make money but ensure safer commutes from festivities.

“It’s not about making money for us. It’s about creating awareness on getting a safe drive home, and that’s what our company stands for,” Schacht said.

All rides will cost between $20 and $30.

For Walker, she said the price of a taxi is small compared to the grief it will also carry. In honor of her beloved son, she tearfully shared photos with 13abc.

“This is my baby when we took him to college, August 20. This is us two weeks later, collecting his clothes,” Walker said.

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