ROBERT SHIKINA / RSHIKINA@STARBULLETIN.COM
A police officer placed a flower at the base of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving memorial at Kakaako Waterfront Park yesterday during a vigil remembering those who lost their lives in alcohol-related traffic accidents.
MADD rues ‘preventable’ deaths
Johanna Ramos lost her son, Bobby Gouveia, 18, 11 months ago in a car crash on the North Shore.
Gouveia died Oct. 22 while riding in a friend's Acura sedan as it crashed into a siren pole on Farrington Highway in Mokuleia. Police said alcohol was a factor in the crash.
Ramos, who was attending the 23rd annual Mothers Against Drunk Driving candlelight vigil yesterday, said she is reminded of the crash every month when the civil defense sirens sound.
"I felt good coming here, being around other people," she said. "It's like a remembrance, everybody feels the same -- how it is to be hurt by something that can be prevented."
About 40 Honolulu police officers joined the ceremony at Kakaako Waterfront Park near the MADD memorial, lighting candles and placing roses at the base of the memorial.
"Today we're going to remember the over 1,600 lives lost in Hawaii since 1982 in driver-impaired crashes," said Theresa Winn, of the MADD National Board.* "The void that is left when a loved one is taken is never filled again."
Traci Jacob sat outside the group in the wheelchair she uses because a head injury makes it hard for her to walk.
Jacob was injured in 1984 as a passenger in a car driven by a drunken driver. The driver hit a tree, and Jacob, who had her right arm out the window, lost her hand in the crash.
"There's hope for victims," she said, adding that the community needs to be vigilant about ending driver-impaired accidents. "It's totally preventable."
MADD Hawaii Executive Director Leah Marx said drunken drivers kill an average of one person every five days in Hawaii. In 2006, 84 people died in Hawaii in alcohol-related accidents.
"It still happens. It happens to everyone and it affects everyone," Marx said.
Honolulu Police Sgt. Ryan Nishibun, who heads the traffic division's selective enforcement unit, said DUI violations are up dramatically this year, but there are additional officers on the 11-person team tasked to catch drunken drivers.
For Ramos the loss of her son still hurts.
"Sometimes I just want to give up," she said. "I'm tired that he's gone."
Gouveia was studying at an Arizona school to become a diesel mechanic.
"He had such dreams," she said. "He was like my dream kid. He had so much in him."
Kekai Seabury lost his father in a 2003 vehicular crash on Kalanianaole Highway. The 22-year-old driver who caused the crash survived and told hospital staff that he had had three beers before the collision.
"It hurts," Seabury said. "My battles kill me.
"Until it happens to you, you never know how it feels," he said. "It's a struggle."
Saturday, September 29, 2007
» More than 1,600 people have died in driver-impaired crashes in Hawaii since 1982. A Page A3 story on Monday misquoted Theresa Winn of MADD as saying 1,600 people have died since 1992.
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