Honoring the victims of drunk drivers is a difficult task for the people left behind. But when two Pennsylvania firefighters were killed in separate drunk driving incidents, the families came together for an American Red Cross blood drive in their honor.
In 2008 volunteer firefighter Zachary Sweitzer lost his life when he was struck by a drunk driver on Thanksgiving day. He volunteered with the Loganville Fire Department, the same department where Fire Chief Rodney Miller worked before he was killed by a drunk driver in April of 2013. He was working at the time, and the individual who struck him thought he had hit a deer as he exited an off ramp. At the time of arrest, the offender had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .118.
Because both men were tissue donors, they’ve been honored for saving lives before and after their deaths. The family of Sweitzer began hosting blood drives after he died in 2008, and Miller attended those drives until he was killed by a drunk driver as well.
It’s tragic when the public servants are killed by drunk drivers in the prime of their lives, and these crashes are a good indicator that it’s time for the state of Pennsylvania to crack down on their drunk driving problem. Out of 51 states, Pennsylvania ranks 49th on the list of most lenient drunk driving laws.
If you’re a first offender in the state there is no jail time, a small $300 fine, no drivers license suspension, and you’ll only be required to install an ignition interlock device if you refuse to submit to a chemical test. With laws that lenient, there’s no real deterrent for drinking and driving.
To really honor these Pennsylvania firefighters and other victims of drunk driving, the state needs to step up and change their drunk driving laws. Until they do, more people will be killed and more families will struggle to honor a loved one lost to drunk driving.