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franklin county times

MADD candles burn…

By Staff
REMEMBERING Janean and Ricky Harrison light candles for their two children, killed by a drunk driver, while the baby brother they will never know, Eli, watches his first Mothers Against Drunk Driving Candlelight Vigil of Remembrance and Hope. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Dec. 2, 2000
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
In his mother's arms, 7-month-old Eli Harrison watches the glow as his parents light two candles, one each for the brother and sister he will know only through photos and stories.
The lives of 11-year-old Crystal and 8-year-old C.J. were taken by a drunk driver in 1993. On Friday, his parents gathered with other survivors and friends to remember.
On the other side of the room at Union Station, where Mothers Against Drunk Driving is holding its ninth Candlelight Vigil of Remembrance and Hope, David and Stephanie Denham remember their 9-year-old daughter, Lorien, who would now be 18 if a drunk driver had not taken her life.
Before the evening is over, 362 candles will burn, one for each Mississippian who died in 1999 because of drunk drivers.
Assistant District Attorney Lisa Howell, guest speaker, speaks of Lorien Denham.
In that time, Howell has not lost a DUI case, an accomplishment she credits partly to Lorien who, from her photo, stares at Howell as a reminder when defense attorneys offer weak plea arrangements or defendants offer sob stories.
The loved ones of victims share their grief as Kristen Hairston sings "Candle in the Wind," a tribute from Elton John to Princess Diana, who also was a victim of a drunk driver.
One by one, the family members walk to the table to light a candle in remembrance. The yearly gathering serves as a tribute and a reminder, but also as a message, which MADD members have placed in large, bold letters on their program, "Justice will only be achieved when those who are not injured by crime feel as indignant as those who are."
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.
No DUI fatalities:
On the night of a vigil remembering people killed by drunk drivers, Lauderdale County officials said we are blessed that no one died due to DUIs on county roads this year.
Sheriff Billy Sollie said he hopes our luck holds in the remaining 30 days of the year.
This year's five deaths involving traffic accidents were mostly attributed to speed, said Maj. Ward Calhoun of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department. Last year, deputies responded to 16 fatalities with a number of them attributed to alcohol, Calhoun said.
Sollie and Calhoun said they think the decline is due to increased education and special details such as roadside safety checks and Calhoun said Lauderdale County is gaining a reputation for stiff DUI law enforcement.