JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As people head out for a holiday known for drinking, a grieving mother provides a tragic reminder why alcohol and driving don't mix.
Virginia Kirk, 25, a Baker County mother of three, was killed three years ago when she was struck by a car driven by Randall Morrow, whose blood-alcohol level was 0.12, well over the legal limit.
"I miss her hugs, because she would come up and give me a hug just whenever," said the victim's mother, Debbie Pruitt.
Jacob Green and another man were killed last January when a suspected drunk driver hit them on the side of the road.
"Jacob was going to walk me down the aisle and we had a mother and son dance planned," his Green's mother, Stephanie Glover, said.
Glover is also taking a strong stance against drunk driving.
"This was actually a fear of mine. I feared this constantly," Glover said.
In 2013, five people died in suspected DUI crashes in Duval County.Last year, two teens and a father were killed in Baker County New Year's morning.
Police are hoping they don't have to work any bad crashes this year, but agencies all across the area will have extra officers out, making sure people play it safe.
"Our DUI units are going to be in full effect, as well as our patrol units," Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda said. "I think a lot of the misconception out there is that they can have a drink or two and they are OK to drive. And they're really not."
The nonprofit organization JaxImpact is showing Kirk's smashed vehicle to help stop people from getting behind the wheel, and Pruitt fully supports using the car her daughter died in to teach young drivers about the dangerous of DUI.
"I try to get through peoples' heads that buzzed drinking is considered drinking," Pruitt said.
Morrow was convicted of DUI manslaughter and is serving five years in prison. He apologized to her mother and when he gets out, he plans on traveling with her and putting on presentations about the dangers of drunk driving.
Pruitt, Glover JaxImpact and law enforcement agencies not only urge people to stay safe, but suggest several free alternatives to getting behind the wheel:
- Beachside Buggies - call or text 904-887-4441 for rides in Jacksonville, Neptune and Atlantic Beaches.
- AAA Tow to Go - call 855-2-TOW-2-GO
- http://www.takeafreeride.org/Take A Free Ride Inc. - 904-868-7433
- Farah and Farah Free Rides. To reserve a cab: keepourcitysafe.org