METAIRIE, La. (WGNO) — Families lined up, took their roses and said the names of the loved ones taken far too soon.
“As much as that hurts to say that, I bring the awareness that it can happen to anyone,” Paula Zachary said.
Zachary lost her son, Brandon, to a drunk driving crash 15 years ago.
Zachary said, Brandon was only 19 years old. He was driving home from a night out with friends before his sophomore year at Southeastern Louisiana University. Brandon was the impaired driver.
State Police Lt. Melissa Matey told WGNO, the problem is bigger than it seems.
“I don’t think people realize how bad impaired driving crashes are in Louisiana,” Lt. Matey said “Nearly half the fatalities we investigate are impaired driving related and that’s too many.”
According to some volunteers, that is why groups like MADD need more support.
“I do a lot of victim impact panels where I talk to offenders and say ‘look it can be you, it can be anybody on the road,'” Zachary said. “Nobody needs to drink and drive.”
“Building and bringing awareness to our state — across the state — it’s everything,” MADD Louisiana Affiliate Executive Director Sunny House said. “We are a victims services first organization. We’re there to help them through the court process when something like this unfortunately happens.”
Lt. Matey said, there are many ways to prevent these tragedies.
“It’s so easy now to get an Bber or get a ride share or call somebody,” Lt. Matey said. “That way you’re gonna make sure that you make it home safely and that everyone else on the road makes it home safely also.”