DUI death led to victims’ panel
Vail Daily, Vail Colorado COThe following is a speech at a press conference in Avon announcing police agencies forming a task force to catch more drunken drivers during the holiday period:Hello. My name is Elaine Turnbull, and I am the current director of the Victim Impact Panel of Eagle County, what we fondly refer to as the VIP. I am joined by two of our VIP board members, Mrs. Barb Shierkolk and Capt. Bill Kaufmann of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.Fifteen years ago, a lovely young mother was hit by a car in Gypsum as she took an evening walk. She was killed by a drunk driver. She left behind a devastated young husband and a 2-month-old baby girl, and a count of horrified and saddened citizens. Some local citizens were called to action by such a horrible event, and, with the support of the Eagle County courts, started the Victim Impact Panel.This panel, which is held every other month in the Eagle County Building, provides at least three speakers, all of whom are victims of drunk drivers, either directly or indirectly. They address those convicted of a DUI, and they tell them their stories. It is not done in a way to be judgmental, or accusatory, or to make the listeners feel bad or guilty about their actions. It is done in a way that the listeners leave after hearing the speakers with hopefully a new perspective about the potential consequences of drinking and driving. Our message to them isn’t about whether they drink. It’s about their choice to drink and then drive. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen stony, resentful faces enter the doors, and enlightened, respectful faces leave. It is often a difficult, personal and gut-wrenching story for the victims to tell, in front of between 50 to 100 people.Those sentenced to attend a VIP must pay a fee to attend. The money collected is used for public education, financing for law enforcement assists on anticipated busy nights, high school education and events, key tag programs – anything that we think might help to keep people from drinking and driving.We are honored to be included in today’s task force kick-off, and are very pleased to present a brand new breathalyzer to each of the law enforcement entities in Eagle County. We hope they prove to be of great use to those of you who are out there, trying to keep us and our loved ones safe on the roads.We want to tell you how much we appreciate what you are doing for us out there. We know that while we are safely sleeping in our warm beds, you are out there at all times, in sometimes horrible weather on treacherous roads, keeping our friends and families safe and protected.We want to remember Officer Ken Jordan, who was just killed last week by a drunk driver in Colorado Springs. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family. We will continue to do our part to try to get the message out to drunk drivers everywhere about their choices. Finally, we will continue to keep all of you in our prayers for your continued safety. Blessings to all of you. Have a safe and beautiful holiday season. Thank you.
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