OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Law enforcement from the Oklahoma City Police Department, Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office and Oklahoma Highway Patrol among others met Thursday morning in front of a symbol representing those who lost their lives to impaired drivers. This holiday season, they want to remind everyone to enjoy their holiday, but to do so responsibly.
“The pain doesn’t go away,” said Misty Thompson. A woman that lost her pregnant daughter after she was hit by a drunk driver in 2018. “It doesn’t go away. I have to deal with every day that I never see my child.”
“I have to just have a vision in my mind or image in my mind of what my grandchild looks like or just have to just deal with the pain of not ever seeing my child again,” Thompson said. “It angers me. I’m still not over it. I don’t think that I’ll ever get over it.”
Thompson spoke at the gathering of law enforcement in front of the tree of life at Penn Square mall in northwest Oklahoma City. Underneath the tree are 74 gifts representing the 74 lives lost in Oklahoma County due to drunk driving since 2018.
“There’s no way to stop it,” said Msgt. Gary Knight with the Oklahoma City Police Department. “But you can certainly do everything you can to slow it down.”
Knight said it hits close to home for the Oklahoma City Police Department as well with the death of Sgt. Meagan Burke this year.
“There’s no way to make it zero, the number of impaired drivers out there,” he said. “But we’re doing everything we can to bring that number down.”
Authorities urge you to have a plan if you go out, whether that be using ride share programs or a designated driver.
“I like to say just be responsible,” Thompson said.
This year just as in the past, authorities plan to be watching this holiday season.
“We’re going to be out in full force over the next couple weeks with saturations and check points trying to combat this effort,” said Trooper Lisa Jorgensen with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
“We need to ensure that our motoring public is safe when they’re operating on our roadways,” said Oklahoma County Sheriff Tommie Johnson III.
Johnson said they alone at the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office have made 127 DUI arrests this year. Three of those wrecks caused major injuries, but luckily none have been fatalities so far. Last Christmas between Dec. 23 and Dec. 26. Jorgensen said across the state the highway patrol saw 700 wrecks with 60 involving impaired drivers. They saw 7 fatal wrecks with 8 deaths and four of those were due to impaired drivers. The highway patrol also saw 92 injury wrecks hurting 123 people with 16 of those involving impaired drivers.