Stricter Laws Are A Small Relief To Drunk Driving Victims

12:00 AM, Feb 22, 2012   |    comments
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Graham, NC--  On Tuesday, in Alamance County, a judge sentenced a man to prison for his role in a fatal drunk driving crash. Curtis Lutterloh pleaded guilty to killing 17-year-old, Darren Jones and leaving 38-year-old Carl Wheeler paralyzed and unable to speak. A judge sentenced Lutterloh to between 41 to 59 months in prison.

Part of that sentence would not have been possible in the past. Recent state law changed to make serious injury by vehicle a felony. Part of his sentence was extended thanks to that new legislation.

But the two victims' families say knowing that doesn't bring them peace.

The parents say there is no such thing as closure. They're glad that Curtis Lutterloh will go to prison for at least some time, but that does not change what happened to their sons.

Darren's mother, Alice Jones said, "It doesn't make it any easier and I don't feel like there will ever be closure."

"At least now I know he's not out continuing his life while my son's not so it does give me a little relief there", added Keith Jones, Darren's father.

Esther Wheeler choked back tears as she described how her son, Carl Wheeler spends his days, "He cannot do nothing for himself like he used to. He can't drive. He can't speak. He can't get up out of bed. He can't do nothing."

Those are just three parents who live broken lives every day because of one drunk driver. The sad truth is they are not alone. They are part of an army of broken lives.

Government statistics tell us that on average this year a drunk driver will kill someone every 50 minutes.

North Carolina statistic shows that on average in 2011, someone was killed every day because of drunk driving.

Statistics serve as a painful reality but victims of drunk drivers will tell you the law can change and get tougher but people have to change too.

Alice Jones added, "Drunk driving is a very serious crime that takes people's lives and I don't think it should be tolerated or taken lightly. I miss my son..."

Although Carl Wheeler survived, he was not in court on Tuesday. He's confined to a wheelchair and has no means of transportation. The accident also took away his ability to speak. His three children will never hear his voice again.

WFMY News 2, MADD North Carolina

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