SHREVEPORT, LA — Bill Laurenson skims through an old photo album and grins at the memories he made with his daughter Amanda.
“She had a personality that was to die for. Constant smile, blue eyes,” he said.
The most recent snapshot in that album is Amanda’s obituary Bill cut out of a newspaper.
“I’d gladly take her place to let her live her life.”
In 2004, the 17-year-old Amanda was driving at the intersection of Blom and Crabapple in Shreveport, a two way stop at the time.
She was on the phone with her mother, as she crossed around 3:30 in the afternoon. Amanda was struck by a drunk driver with nearly twice the legal blood alcohol level and driving twice the speed limit.
Amanda’s father hopes her story might make someone stop before they get behind the wheel after having one too many.
“If he had stayed in his own lane, worst thing he could have done was take off her back bumper,” Bill Laurenson said.
But that wasn’t the case. William Gourdine was sentenced to a year in prison for killing the high school student.
“I haven’t forgiven him. Everyone says you have to forgive. I just can’t at the present time for what he did.”
A Louisiana appeals court declared the sentence lenient and Gourdine was sent to prison for four years after a vehicular homicide conviction.
This was his third drunken driving arrest.
“If the punishment was stricter, there would be less of them,” added Laurenson.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, from 2003-2012, 3,046 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in Louisiana.
A more recent study from Safe Wise lists Louisiana among the top 10 states with the highest rate of impaired driving deaths in the nation.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission has ‘enforcement waves,’ typically during holiday seasons such as Mardi Gras, Christmas, and even Labor Day weekend.
“I’ve got no problem if you want to go out and party, but don’t drive and fall into that trap of something ‘might’ happen.”
Which is exactly what Gourdine did. Because of that, his life, Amanda’s, both of their family and friend’s lives will never be the same.
“You do your best to keep them safe. The only problem is there is another idiot out on the road.”
In 2016, alcohol-impaired drivers in Louisiana were involved in crashes that killed 334 people. That’s more than 40% of all traffic fatalities, according to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.