In 12 days there have been 9 fatalities in the Reno area. All of these from motor accidents. All of them a result of driving under the influence of alcohol, recklessness, and speed.
Few things make you realize your own mortality like parenthood. When you have another person, a child, depending on you for wellness, love, protection and happiness, your entire life takes a different shape.
One with a painful amount of love.
And the loss of life is always excruciating. It doesn’t matter how well prepared you are for it (if that’s even possible), how much time you’ve had to say good bye. But there’s a special kind of loss that occurs around a loss that could have been prevented, a life that could have gone on, a mother that could have been saved.
I’m referencing, of course, Alisa Hardy Orton. On August 5th, 2016, our community lost a mom, a wife, a friend, a daughter.
There was also Janeth Gonzalez and Saul Garcia. On August 13, 2016, we lost this engaged couple that were UNR Alumni with so much promise for a bright future.
These deaths could have been prevented.
And as frustrating, devastating, and debilitating these events can be, we aren’t helpless. You aren’t helpless.
As part of my effort to improve the community, I’ve volunteered for the Neighborhood Advisory Board for Ward 2, and part of that is the connection to the Reno Police Department. And while the first choice in preventing this experience is choosing not to drink and drive in the first place, we have some opportunity to prevent a crash from happening again.
If you’re like me, I chase after a drunk driver with the tenacity of, well, a mom. Of someone who sees this incident as a threat to my family, our lives, our happiness.
You, a potential victim, are not helpless.
This isn’t meant to be a full list of what we can do, as a society, to prevent this from happening in the first place – offering help for those with addiction, those who make poor choices, those who don’t have access to better decisions. Instead, it’s to make an difference when a bad decision has already been made.
When you see someone you suspect of drunk or reckless driving, call 911. Don’t doubt yourself, don’t trouble yourself with feeling as though you’re “bugging the police”. Being wrong is worth one more bed time.
Here are some signs that someone is driving under the influence:
- Swerving, driving back and forth
- Speed alternating between high and low
- Headlights Off
- Inability to focus on more than one thing at once (speed AND staying in the lines)
- Blinker being left on
- Sudden turns
Now that you’ve called 911, what next?
Immediately after you’ve called, the Reno Police Department will start to hone in on your location. The longer you can stay (safely) with this driver, the better chances the Reno Police Department has of catching this individual. And yes, you can call 911 while driving. And yes, your call does matter to the Reno Police Department. And no, don’t assume someone else will do it.
The more people who call in a suspected drunk driver, the better chances the Reno Police Department has of catching them.
Don’t hesitate to call. Be alert when you’re driving. Keep your eyes open for the signs listed above. Get the license plate number, and remember what they look like.
You are not helpless.
So here’s to more bedtimes. More fits and tantrums. More snuggles. More hugs. More opportunities to cry, to laugh.
Here’s to making a difference, one call at a time.
*A special thanks is needed for our Reno Police Department Sergeant Jason Stallcop, Lieutenant Joe Robinson, and Officer Eric Friberg for providing information, and connecting with the community to help us keep our roads safe.
If you are looking for an opportunity to donate to Alisa Orton’s Memorial fund, please visit: www.gofundme.com/2jwcgwec
To donate to Janeth Gonzalez and Saul Garcia’s fund, visit: www.gofundme.com/2jrxpjde
You can follow the Reno Police Department on Facebook to stay informed as well.