Law enforcement officials and community representatives gathered into the lobby of Delaware City Hall Friday morning to dedicate a display of wreaths on the southwest corner of Sandusky and William Streets.
The display, created by the Delaware County Safe Communities-Safe Kids Coalition, uses wreaths to represent lives lost to traffic accidents involving impaired drivers.
“On the surface, this looks like a pretty holiday display, not uncommon for this time of year,” said Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien. “But think about it, these wreaths represent loved ones that won’t be celebrating with us this year.”
O’Brien said that she is committing that all the law enforcement in Delaware County would do everything possible to keep people safe, but noted that law enforcement can only do so much, a message shared by all who spoke at the dedication ceremony.
“Anyone of any age can be affected, whether they are driving impaired, or simply driving home from a holiday party,” said Juvenile Court Magistrate David Hejmanowski. “It is the responsibility of all drivers to think about the safety of themselves and others all year round, but especially during the holidays.”
O’Brien focused her message on drivers.
“Look at those wreaths,” she said. “Think about how you’re going to celebrate in the next few weeks.”
There have been 25 fatal crashes – and 26 total fatalities – due to impaired driving since 2009 in Delaware County. Of the 26 deaths, 22 were the impaired motorist who caused the crashes. Not all crashes were caused by alcohol: 19 drivers were impaired by alcohol and seven were impaired by cocaine, marijuana and other drugs. The average blood alcohol content was 0.204, with the highest BAC at 0.67.
“We cannot rest on the statistics along with the holiday season upon us,” said Lt. Kevin Knapp, commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Delaware Post. “While preventing impaired driving crashes is important all year long, no time is more important than the upcoming holiday.”
“And unfortunately, Delaware County has at least one additional person die as a result of impaired driving each year at this time,” said Jackie Bain, safety coordinator for the Delaware General Health District. “We want to see this trend change this year.”
She said she appreciates everyone involved spreading the message of sober driving, the goal of the wreath display.
“The Delaware County Safe Communities/Safe Kids Coalition dedicates this display today in hope of raising awareness to prevent any further death due to impaired driving,” she said.