Turn anger into action to prevent another drunk driving fatality
Her eyes sparkled with enthusiasm and her smile radiated with affection. In almost every photo posted since her tragic death caused by a drunk driver, Mandy Streit is hugging someone. She will be missed unfathomably by her heartbroken family and throughout the community.
Yes, we are mad as hell.
Monday night’s horror show on Interstate 80 at Kimball Junction, is every family’s worst nightmare that a loved one’s life could be so suddenly extinguished by a reckless act of negligence.
But anger itself won’t prevent a similar tragedy.
Mandy grew up in Park City. In this edition, a childhood friend remembers their days together at Parley’s Park Elementary and Park City High School. She was a child of our village and the best way to honor her memory is by taking concrete steps to prevent a similar tragedy from befalling another family.
We need to be vigilant about reporting impaired drivers. Sheriff’s deputies did receive calls about a wrong-way driver Monday night, but were unable to pull him over in time. Cell phones can be deadly distractions in our cars but they can also be lifesavers. If someone had seen, and called 911 to report Miller’s driving a moment sooner the outcome might have been different.
We need to make it clear to local bars, restaurants and liquor stores that this community supports strict enforcement the state’s DRAM shop liability statutes. It is possible that Miller was already intoxicated when he purchased the bottle of Jim Beam found open in his car after the crash. The state is currently investigating where the bottle came from and whoever sold it to him could be penalized. Let it be known that those who sell or serve alcohol can be held responsible for the behavior of their customers.
We should also ask the Utah Department of Transportation to look at whether the freeway entrances and exits at Kimball Junction could be more clearly marked. It is a confusing intersection and even though most drivers can sort it out — in light of this fatal accident UDOT should consider enhancing its signage there.
We should also note, as a result of this tragedy another local resident’s life has been ruined, too. Stuart Miller, of Kamas, the man who chose to drink behind the wheel until he was so impaired that he drove onto the wrong side of the Interstate, is now facing up to 15 years in jail for automobile homicide. Any plans he may have had for a productive future are now derailed. And while he must be held responsible for his unconscionable actions, perhaps, his life could have taken another turn if he knew where to turn for help.
We need to staunchly support programs that help identify and treat substance abuse. The Summit County Health Department has already begun to assess the need for additional local mental health services. Had those services been in place, perhaps Miller or others struggling with similar problems — could have received help before making a fatal mistake.
There is always more we could and should be doing to keep our families safe. Perhaps those efforts can provide some small comfort to those who are mourning for Mandy.
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