Editorial | A DUI can result in more than just jail time
July 27, 2011 · Updated 11:50 AM
DUI incidents have plagued the pages of the Reporter for many years in tragic stories and in the weekly police blotter.
This week was no exception.
A drunk driver killed Kirkland resident and Google engineer Steve Lacey on Sunday as he drove home along N.E. 85th St. after running an errand at Costco.
Some people may become desensitized to seeing so many unfortunate stories of driving under the influence and its harrowing consequences. But it is important to remember the victims are real people.
Lacey, a 43-year-old father of two young children, recently celebrated his 10th anniversary with his wife. It is difficult to imagine how this mother will explain to 5-year-old Jasmine and 7-year-old Julian that their father will never come home.
Last year, we reported on Snohomish resident Matthew McDonald, who pleaded guilty to four counts of vehicular homicide after he ran a stop sign at a high rate of speed and smashed into a car. McDonald had a blood alcohol level of .123 when he and a passenger climbed into his vehicle after drinking beer for nearly 12 hours. The legal limit for blood alcohol content in Washington State is .08.
McDonald survived the crash; the four victims did not. Those victims include Tom and Hilda Woods, the son and daughter-in-law of former Kirkland Mayor Bill Woods. The other couple was Brad and Melissa Agerup. The two couples were returning home after planning a birthday party.
Bill Woods got to spend Thanksgiving with his only son before he was killed. He later told the Reporter: “The driver walked away with little or no injuries. But that’s pretty typical – drunks always fall down and never get hurt.”
Another drunk driver killed two Federal Way students in June of 2010 on their last day of high school. Derek King and Nicholas Hodgins were both Decatur High School seniors set to graduate three days before they were killed.
Kirkland resident Alexander E. Peder’s vehicle rear-ended the students’ car that had broken down on southbound I-5, completely smashing the rear end of the car and almost pushing it into the front seat. Peder was sentenced to102 months last April.
During the emotional sentencing that was attended by more than 100 family members and friends of the victims, many spoke of their loved ones who were killed.
“I spent my time looking out for him,” said Brandi Gleason, Hodgins’ older sister. “This is one thing I couldn’t protect him from. There is a day when (Peder) can rebuild his life. Our family can never regain what we’ve lost. We are stuck with this for the rest of our lives.”
While DUI offenders can brush off the lives they took after serving quick sentences, victim’s families can never forget.
We should not either.
It takes a great deal of social responsibility to prevent DUI incidents. If you plan to drink, simply put – don’t drive. If your friend plans to drink, don’t let them drive. Take the keys and throw them in a lake, if necessary.
If you serve alcohol, know the limits. Allowing someone to purchase one more mixed drink just to increase your bottom line may be the difference between sobriety and pushing someone over the drunken threshold