Posted on June 9, 2011 at 10:18 PM
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- It happens every year. Kids graduate from high school and their lives and stories move on. But Decatur High School students in Federal Way decided three lives should be remembered by future generations.
Nick Hodgins, Derek King, and Emmanuel Franco were all killed by drunk drivers.
A year ago today, Hodgins and King were in a stalled car on Interstate 5, when a drunk driver slammed into them.
“It's a cement reminder of the fact that he's not here anymore,” says Hodgins’ sister, Brandi Gleason when she looks at the memorial. “Definitely difficult but also an uplifting moment to know he's in everybody's hearts.”
Franco, a Decatur graduate, died just before New Year’s, hit by a drunk driver along 320th in Federal Way. His younger brother says it's made him more vigilant.
“If you see someone at a party with intent to possibly drive, and they're intoxicated, I'm more than willing to go up to them and say, ‘hey use some common sense,’” says Julian Franco.
The unveiling of this memorial is timely. AAA says June 10th is one of the deadliest days of the year for teens, deadly crashes among young drivers peak during the summer months. More than 7,300 teen drivers and passengers ages 13-19 died in traffic crashes between Memorial Day and Labor Day from 2005-2009.
“With graduation going on it's a big time for celebration,” says Trooper Kyle Smith, of the Washington State Patrol. “A lot of kids are taking risks that are unnecessary.”
Many of the students and parents here tonight have already learned the lesson.
“I just hope this teaches the kids over the years the dangers of drunk driving the dangers of drinking, and maybe change some people’s lives and save someone's life,” says Gleason.
The memorial sits on the front lawn of the high school. It was made possible through student-led fundraising, spear-headed by 17 year old Chloe Turner, who is graduating this weekend.