Brookdale HERO Walk remembers drunk driving victims
MIDDLETOWN – 22-year-old Chad Michael Horne was the designated driver when he died in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver after he was leaving his grandmother’s wake in Bethlehem in January 2010. His 2 passengers also died in the accident.
On Sunday, Horne, who was a former Brookdale student, was remembered at the 1st Monmouth County HERO Walk on the campus of Brookdale Community College. Other New Jersey victims of drivers driving under the influence, whose names and photographs were posted on a large banner outside the student center, were also remembered in the HERO Walk.
The Campaign known as HERO is a nonprofit organization run by the John R. Elliott Foundation. The main purpose of it is to encourage the use of safe and sober designated drivers to avoid drunk-driving accidents and fatalities. The foundation was created by the family of Elliott, who died in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver 14 years back in Salem County.
Horne’s sister, Bryanna Garnett said, “We decided to support the HERO Campaign because it is a positive way we can remember my brother”. She also told that her cousin and a friend of her mother, who were riding in the vehicle which her brother was driving, were also killed in the accident.
According to her, 27-year-old Anthony R. Bruno, the drunk driver charged in the accident, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and is now serving 7 ½ to 18 years in state prison.
Horne’s aunt, Cheryl Walsh said, almost 200 individuals from youths to seniors had preregistered for the HERO walk at Brookdale. She said, “When I heard about the HERO Campaign I was the first one of our family to walk in the Ocean City walk. Then, the following year, six people walked with me and now this year we have many people walking today. We have found a way to turn our grief into something positive.” According to her, there are a large number of walks to raise money for awareness and a cure for diseases, but walking to change behavior is very difficult challenge.
William D. Elliott, John Elliott’s father told that he will never forget the early morning knock on his door by police who came to tell him his son was dead in an accident.
The driver who caused the accident was under the influence of alcohol and had been taken into custody by police two hours prior to the accident but was released to a friend. The driver then got behind the wheel of his vehicle again and caused the accident.
Due to the accident, John’s Law was implemented by the state Legislature in 2001. It requires police officers to seize vehicles of those individuals taken into custody for driving under the influence for up to 12 hours. A national version of John’s Law was enacted in 2005, and provides incentives for states to seize vehicles of those charged with DUI.
John Elliott’s mother, Muriel said, “The sadness and grief never goes away. My heart is always broken”. Her son was getting home to assist celebrate her birthday when the accident occurred in Salem County.
The foundation has a variety of methods to promote and encourage the use of sober designated drivers to keep drunken drivers off the roadways in which the registering designated drivers, displaying “Hero” wristbands and car decals, recruiting taverns and restaurants to serve free soft drinks to designated drivers, and helping to establish HERO chapters at high schools and colleges are included.
According to William Elliott, “Over the last 10 years the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures show a 35 percent decline in drunk-driving accidents. Education is making a difference”.
Molly Berkowitz, a registered nurse, gave students a graphic look at what could possibly happen to them if they are involved in a distracted or drunken driving accident. She said, “They need to know what they will face if they are driving or a passenger”.
The Middletown police department which also took part in the walk at Brookdale has also given education to the high school students every year with the help of its Rude Awakening program. The program gives students a realistic look of the life-altering consequences of drinking and getting behind the wheel.
News Source: www.App.com