|Published:||Aug 27, 2010 12:43 AM EDT|
|Updated:||Aug 26, 2010 6:38 PM EDT|
FORT MYERS, Fla. - One in five Americans admits to drinking and driving within the past year, according to a new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey. Those statistics have human tragedy behind them, some here in Southwest Florida.
Army Staff Sgt. Danny Beougher was 23-years old when he was killed by a drunk driver. He was on his way to visit family, just after returning from his second tour in Iraq.
"We actually didn't know that my brother and his wife were coming down. They were trying to surprise us for the holidays," said Tony Beougher, Danny's big brother by two years.
A drunk driver crossed over a median and crashed into Danny's car that night in December of 2008. His life was taken in an instant, but for his family, their world is still upside-down two years later.
"I can't pick up the phone and call my brother like I used to. I can't hope for the next holiday to see him, or to talk to him. I can't look forward to him having kids with his wife, and playing with them like he played with my kids," Beougher said Thursday.
The source of that heartache doesn't seem to be going anywhere. New numbers show one in five Americans admits to drinking and driving within the past year, adding up to a startling 17 million drunk drivers.
"It's not something that shocks us, unfortunately. We're still making arrests. Ultimately, we'd love to not make arrests, and see people complying, but there are still people out there," Fort Myers Police Lt. Jim Mulligan said Thursday.
Fort Myers Police have made 123 DUI arrests this year, and with Labor Day weekend approaching, they're preparing for more. They're setting up random DUI checkpoints, starting this weekend. But for the Beougher's, the solution is a simple choice.
"Somebody actively chose to put his life, and everyone else's life in danger by getting behind the wheel after drinking. You have that choice. Each person really needs to ask themselves, is it worth it?" Beougher said.
In February, Ashley East, the drunk driver responsible for Beougher's death, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
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