BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (WAFB) – New Years Eve is almost here.
It’s one of the most exciting times of the year, but it’s also one of the most dangerous.
According to a Louisiana Highway Safety Commission study, 87 people were injured and four died in alcohol-related crashes around the 2020 New Years holiday.
Lt. Jennifer Duet of the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office knows the dangers of drinking and driving.
“It is devastating that a decision like the one made by one person affects so many people,” Duet said.
In November 2019, her daughter Ariel was heading to New Orleans with friends.
The night she was supposed to come home, Jenifer knocked on her door. It was an officer telling him something had happened to Ariel.
“I told him I had just been on a long drive to New Orleans, and told him I would appreciate it if he told me. So he called his supervisor, called me back and told me my daughter was injured in a car accident and it was fatal, ”Duet said.
A drunk driver hit and killed Ariel.
She was only 24 years old and left behind two small babies.
“When [her son] sometimes speaks now, he will make a statement that his mother is dead. It’s forever marked on him. How do you explain to a 4 year old child that there was a drunk driver behind a vehicle? He doesn’t know what alcohol is or what he can do to someone, ”Duet said.
Jenifer’s husband Shawn is a former officer. He said he’s always been on the opposite side, but nothing can prepare you for this type of call.
“Unfortunately accidents and bad things happen all the time, and you don’t realize how bad it is until it affects you,” he said.
This family wanted to share their story in hopes of persuading others to think twice before driving while intoxicated.
Shaun said he wants people to go out and party, but he wants people to be smart.
“I’m not saying don’t go out and have fun and stop living. You can go out and party, but don’t drive, ”he said.
They just want people to be safe, so that no one else can go through the same pain.
“We remember her several times a day. That will never change, ”he said.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) urges people to use ridesharing services like Uber of Lyft, designate a sober driver, or plan to stay overnight if you’re drinking at a friend’s house.
“MADD would love everyone to enjoy the New Year’s Eve celebration, but if alcohol is to be a part of your celebration, please have a plan in place before you have that first drink,” said Valarie Cox, Services Specialist. victims at MADD-Louisiana.
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