THE INVESTIGATORS: Advocates warn about dangers of impaired driving ahead of Halloween
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, advocates are warning about the dangers of impaired driving.
Michelle Ramsey-Hawkins says she misses her sweet boys' precious smiles the most.
“Their smiles, their laughs and just the moments where they were having fun and just full of life. That’s what I remember,” said Ramsey-Hawkins.
Khaiden Ramsey, 6, was a whiz at games and excelled in school. His brother, 4-year-old Sam Shropshire, marched to the beat of his own drum and loved music. Together, the pair of them made up their mother’s whole heart. That heart was shattered though back in April 2016.
“When I woke up I was laying on the ground and I just remember knowing that my sons were not there. I didn’t hear their cries or see them,” she added. “That was definitely a life-changing moment for me.”
The family was driving along Walker South Road in Livingston Parish when the unthinkable happened. Moments after they were involved in a crash another driver, Jerry Ervin, III, came tearing out of nowhere. He rammed through the cones in the street and plowed into the spot where the boys were standing.
Ervin took off but was later caught by troopers with Louisiana State Police and cited at more than twice the legal limit. Ervin is currently serving 19 years in prison. The wreck not only cost a mother the lives of her angels but also robbed her of all the experiences they will now never share.
“I won’t get their first heartbreak or the first football game or basketball game. If they wanted to be doctors of lawyers, I don’t get those moments because someone decided to make a decision to get behind the wheel of a car intoxicated,” Hawkins said.
WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked the mother if it’s enough to know that the man who killed her boys is behind bars right now.
“No. It’s never enough,” she answered. “Serving 19 years is not enough for the lifetime that you took away from me.”
Halloween is just a few hours away and the holiday falls on a Saturday this year. The last time it ended up on a Saturday, it was the deadliest in recent years for alcohol-related crashes in the country. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, back then 92 people lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes on the holiday. In 2016, the holiday fell on a Monday where 26 alcohol-related deaths were reported. The holiday fell on a Tuesday in 2017 and saw 25 people lose their lives in alcohol-related crashes. When the holiday fell on a Wednesday in 2018, 27 alcohol-related deaths were recorded.
“The hardest part is thinking about all the families that have lost someone to something that is 100 percent preventable,” said Valerie Cox with MADD.
While the data has not been compiled for last year, Cox calls the numbers disturbing and says it’s vital that drivers think before they drink and get behind the wheel. “After that first drink, you are on the way to being impaired and once you’re impaired, you have this gumption to think you can handle it when actually you cannot,” Cox added.
With a holiday known for its scares, Cox says the most frightening thing about this year is the choices she’s afraid folks will make when alcohol gets involved amid the celebration on a Saturday night.
“One life lost this Halloween is one too many,” Cox added.
For Ramsey-Hawkins, it’s a simple choice and she hopes everyone out there will take just a second to think about her sweet and innocent little boys and think about their precious smiles in order to realize the far too high price she pays every day because someone else chose to drink and drive.
“Don’t make the mistake of others and get behind the wheel of a car to change your life, the life of your families and others,” said Ramsey-Hawkins. “It’s not worth it.”
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