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LPSO lieutenant urging people to drive safe on NYE after daughter was killed by drunk driver

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 10:45 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - New Year’s Eve is almost here.

It’s one of the most exciting times of the year, but it’s also one of the most dangerous.

According to a study from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, 87 people were injured, and four died in alcohol-involved crashes around the 2020 New Year’s Eve holiday.

Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jennifer Duet knows firsthand the dangers of drinking and driving.

“It’s devastating that one decision like that one person makes just affects so many people,” said Duet.

In November 2019, her daughter Ariel was headed to New Orleans with some friends.

On the night she was supposed to return home, Jenifer got a knock on her door. It was an officer telling her something happened to Ariel.

“I told him that I’m coming from a long drive to New Orleans, and I told him that I’d appreciate it if he told me. So, he called his supervisor, called me back, and told me that my daughter was injured in a car crash and that it was fatal,” said Duet.

A drunk driver hit and killed Ariel.

She was only 24 and left behind two small babies.

“When [her son] talks sometimes now, he’ll make a statement that his mother is dead. That’s forever impacted on him. How do you explain to a 4-year-old that there was a drunk driver behind a vehicle? He doesn’t know what alcohol is or what it can do to someone,” said Duet.

Jenifer’s husband Shawn is a former officer. He said he has always been on the opposite side, but nothing can prepare you for that type of call.

“Unfortunately, accidents and bad things happen all the time, and you don’t realize how bad it is until it affects you,” he said.

This family wanted to share their story in hopes of persuading others to think twice before driving drunk.

Shaun said he wants people to go out and celebrate, but he wants people to be smart.

“I’m not saying to don’t go out, not have fun, and stop your life. You can go out and party, just don’t drive,” he said.

They just want people to be safe, so nobody else can through the same pain.

“We’re reminded of her numerous times every day. That will never change,” he said.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is urging people to use ridesharing services like Uber of Lyft, designate a sober driver, or make plans to stay the night if you are drinking at a friend’s home.

“MADD would Iike for everyone to enjoy their New Year’s Celebration, but if alcohol is going to be a part of your celebration, please have a plan in place before consuming that first drink,” said Valarie Cox, Victim Service Specialist at MADD-Louisiana.

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