Alert drivers help to avert another fatal DUI
May 10, 2016
Last week, several alert citizens helped to prevent a near-certain tragedy by calling 911 to report a vehicle traveling the wrong way on the Interstate. Within minutes, a nearby Summit County sheriff’s deputy was able to apprehend the severely impaired driver before anyone was injured.
A month earlier, just a few miles away, another drunk driver who was too inebriated to realize he was speeding down the wrong side of the highway, crashed into another vehicle, killing a well-loved Park City woman. In that case too, other travelers had reported the driver but it was too late.
The lesson is this: we must all be watchdogs for each other’s safety on the highway and be able to react quickly.
According to Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez, it was fortunate that a deputy was in the area when last week’s call near Jeremy Ranch was first reported. The system worked flawlessly. Several witnesses called to report the man’s erratic driving – including at least one near miss with another vehicle. When the calls came in, county dispatchers activated an electronic billboard warning other drivers and called out the nearest officer, who intercepted the car.
The driver’s blood alcohol level was three times over the legal limit and the man had no idea where he was.
Martinez encourages travelers not to hesitate reporting any driver who might be a danger to himself or others. "Don’t assume someone else will call," he said, adding dispatchers would rather receive multiple reports than none at all. "I’d rather be abundantly cautious."
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A dispatcher will likely ask the caller to stay on the line with updates so they can keep track of the potentially impaired driver in real time. "But be sure to keep a safe distance," he cautioned.
If possible, make note of the vehicle’s type (i.e. car, truck or van) make, model, color and license plate number. Dispatchers will also want to know how many people are in that car. And don’t worry, callers can remain anonymous so there is no reason to fear retaliation.
Both of the previously mentioned incidents took place in Summit County. In the fatal crash, both the drunk driver and the victim were Summit County residents – ample proof that our community is not insulated from reckless, drunk, impaired and distracted drivers. But if those who engage in risky behavior behind the wheel know that local residents are quick to call the sheriff, police and highway patrol, that those lawmen will be relentless in pursuing them and the community will prosecute them, and our roads will be a little safer.