Drunken driving scars run deep

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Editorial: May 14, 2013

TOPIC: Alcohol dangers
OUR VIEW: Scars don't heal from drinking and driving

The scars on Harold Dennis and Ciaran Madden never will heal.

The part of the leg Carey Cummins lost never will return.

The smell that finds a way in and out of Darrin Jaquess, the nightmares that have led to many restless nights and the heartbreak of loved ones lost in a cruel way remain.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, especially the deep ones.

It has been 25 years today since Larry Wayne Mahoney decided to get in his black pickup truck, drunk, and get behind the wheel and drive.

That was his call and nobody kept him from doing it.

As horrific and tragic as the events of May 14, 1988, were, it is hard to imagine that Mahoney’s intent was to crash into a church bus carrying 67 people by driving on the wrong side of Interstate 71. But with alcohol flowing through you, like it was for Mahoney on that night, all possibilities are on the table.

That is the control of too much alcohol — you have no control.

His blood alcohol level that night was 0.24. Today, that is three times the legal limit. What can’t be debated is Mahoney was extremely drunk when he found a way to start his vehicle and find the dark interstate.

The issue of alcohol always seems to lead to debate. It all comes down to individual responsibility and that can be scary.

Those who thirst to drink and drink a lot are going to find the alcohol.

But what does it take to change a mind and not drink and drive and open the possibilities, like driving on the wrong side of the road and into the path of 67 innocent lives?

A snapshot of the very obvious scars on Dennis or Madden? Maybe.

The prosthesis that Cummins has to wear? Maybe.

The memorial at North Hardin Memorial Gardens with the names of 27 people who died because of Mahoney’s lack of responsibility? Maybe.

How about the gravesites or photos of innocent children, or the loving and caring fathers and a mother lost in an instant?

How about that?

So if you wonder why there was a group opposed to alcohol sales in Hardin County, maybe you know why now: Not all who consume alcohol will do so in a responsible manner.

There are potential tragedies around the corner when you drink and drive. Yes, we know those tragedies are possible without alcohol, too. We’ll take our chances on the roadways.

In 2011, 9,878 people died in drunken driving crashes. That’s one every 53 minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

All you need to do is look Dennis and Madden in the eye or hear the story of children crying and screaming to their last breath of life and maybe, just maybe, you will understand that thinking you can drive home when you have been drinking is not OK.

Larry Wayne Mahoney probably thought everything would be just fine.

This editorial is a consensus of The News-Enterprise's editorial board.