Police urge safe celebrations this holiday season
Posted December 2, 2011 4:12 p.m. EST
Updated December 3, 2011 1:34 p.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — The dangers of driving while impaired were highlighted Friday at two very different events in the state capital.
At dusk, the Governor's Highway Safety Program and Mothers Against Drunk Driving lit the "Tree of Life" to remember those killed on state roads in 2010. The tree features 1,327 lights – one each for a traffic fatality. There are 884 white lights and 438 red to denote deaths where alcohol was a factor.
Trees will be lit this week in Canton and Wilmington as well.
Bill Wilson, who lost his wife of 32 years to a drunk driver was on hand. Next Tuesday marks a year since her death.
"Three hours before Carolyn's death, she and I were texting back and forth about Christmas gifts for the kids. Less than 24 hours later, I was buying a casket for her," he said.
Carolyn Wilson was a wife and the mother of two children, Rebecca and Will. The man who hit here was a habitual drunk driver; he had charges pending in two other counties at the time of her death.
Her father, Roy Blalock, said, "I was in shock I guess you could say. I don't know if I've even recovered yet."
To prevent losses like the one suffered by the Carolyn Wilson's family, police across North Carolina are launching a month-long effort crack down on impaired drivers.
In December of 2010, there were more than 1,000 alcohol-related crashes in North Carolina, resulting in 31 fatalities and over 700 injuries.
"If you're drinking, don't drive. Period. At all. Not for a block, not for a mile, at all," said Col. Michael Gilchrist of the State Highway Patrol.
The annual "Booze It & Lose It" campaign will begin Saturday and include stepped-up patrols and checkpoints through Jan. 2. Last year's campaign resulted in more than 3,800 DWI charges.
For the Wilsons, forgiveness keeps the anger at bay.
Bill Wilson said he told his son, "As difficult as it is, it is our responsibility to forgive the driver who just took your mother's life. Will looked back at me and said, 'Yes Dad, let's ask forgiveness for the driver.'"