When a parent loses a child to a drunk driving incident, whether to death or a permanent disability, life becomes a daily task of forgiveness, as well as trials.
On May 3, 1980, 13-year-old softball all-star Cari Lightner was killed by a drunk driver while walking to a church carnival. A three-time repeat offender, out of jail only two days from a fourth DUI arrest, hit her from behind, “throwing her out of her shoes 125-feet and then fled the scene.” He was later arrested and charged with her death.
Since then, her mother, Cari’s mother, Candace Lightner, carried her daughter’s photo with her as she pleaded her case to everyone she met and to the courts to change drunk driving laws in California. “I am trying to make sense of a senseless act and turn my pain into a purpose,” she said at the time.
She formed MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and other mothers joined her passion for justice at the National Press Conference in Washington D.C. on October 2, 1980.
The first candlelight vigil in California also caught fire among other chapters that started throughout America, and the nationwide vigils spread in 1981. Volunteers multiplied, picketing in front of state capitols to get new drunk driving laws passed.
The MADD mission is to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking.
Some MADD statistics include;
- Adults drink too much and drive about 121 million times per year or more than 300,000 incidents of drinking while driving.
- This equals 30 deaths every day and one death every 48 minutes, with each and every one of them 100 percent preventable.
- Two hundred ninety thousand injuries per year means exponentially more friends, family members and loved ones unnecessarily impacted by this preventable crime.
On September 6, 2019, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Central Virginia ASAP, Court Community Corrections, Dan River ASAP and the New River Valley ASAP held its Vinton Regional Law Enforcement Awards Luncheon.
Master Deputy Geromy L. Nichols, who has worked in Craig for 12 years, recently received the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Award for the Craig County Sheriff’s Office for this past Fiscal year
“It’s always nice to be rewarded like that,” he said. “It is a real honor to have this award.” Nichols has received this award approximately six times in previous years as well.
He also explained that at the award ceremony, a lady shared her story of being hit by a drunk driver in 2014, which changed her entire life. “It’s the most rewarding part of our job, knowing you are taking people off the roads that could affect families for their rest of their lives,” he said.
Nichols added, “That’s what we are here for – to help people. We may get criticized by some, but hearing that lady’s story is what makes it worth going to work.”
Sheriff Trevor Craddock complimented his deputy: “I would like to thank Master Deputy Nichols, as well as all my deputies for their efforts to combat impaired driving in our community, so that all our citizens can be safe as they travel our highways.”