Candelight Vigil Honors DUI Victims

By: Jennifer Bocchieri Email
By: Jennifer Bocchieri Email

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Hundreds of people came together Thursday for a candlelight vigil at Wichita's Botanica Gardens to honor loved ones killed or injured by drunk drivers.

One-by-one the candles represent a life lost. Every person in the room wishes this was an event they did not have to take part in.

"There's no joy in being here except we're able to gather and support each other," said Gary Howard, whose father died six years ago when a drugged driver hit his car head-on going 70 miles per hour.

While the annual ritual of a candlelight vigil is difficult, those who attended say it's important.

"For many of the people here tonight, one of the issues they have is that they don't want them to be forgotten," said DUI victim advocate Jim Pykiet, who lost his daughter to a drunk driver 20 years ago. "This is one way of remembering them."

There have been several tragic reminders of the cost of drunk driving in 2008. The story that, perhaps, hit the community the hardest was when Claudia Mijares was dropping her 4 year-old daughter off at Gardiner Elementary. A drunk driver hit and killed them in the street. It wasn't that driver's first time in trouble with the law for drinking and driving.

"It has brought a lot of attention to what we see all of the time<" said DUI Victim Center President Mary Ann Khoury. "We see these multiple offenders in court almost every day."

Khoury hopes the outrage the community felt about that accident will last.

"Now they're going to come out and say it's time," she said. "It's time something happened."

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