April 27, 2006
Mother's Against Drunk Drivers, or MADD, honored a few local officers for making sure that number isn't higher. Tonight's award banquet honored officers from 13 local jurisdictions who led their departments in drunk driving arrests last year. More importantly, MADD organizers say, it gives them a chance to honor those who work hard to keep our streets safe.
"These are the ones who actually save lives. They saved my life the night that I was hit by getting me out of the car before I bled to death," said Andrew Torget.
Torget remembers Christmas Eve six years ago when a drunk driver almost took his life. He says officers saved him and he is thankful for their hard work. That hard work is what brought these 28 officers together to be honored for their efforts in DUI enforcement. An honor that all take seriously.
"It's very important [for] keeping the community safe. People die every year by getting hit by DUI drivers," said Charlottesville Police Officer Jeff Sandridge.
"It could be your family member that gets killed by the drunk driver or you could kill somebody else's family member," said Madison County Deputy Joey Adams.
Adams talks from experience. He lost a grandfather and six-year-old cousin to drunk drivers and says he has made it a career goal to fight this crime.
"It's kind of my personal drive. DUI's are my passion," he said.
"There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about Becky and Timmy," said Past MADD President Wendy Hamilton.
Hamilton lost her sister and nephew to a drunk driver in 1984. She and others say the officer's work simply saves lives.
"They're the ones who really protect our highways. They mean a lot to us," she said.
"People tonight and people tomorrow are going to get home safely and never know that they can thank one of these officers because they took a drunk driver off the road that would have otherwise killed or injured somebody," Torget said.
The officers honored tonight received a plaque with their name on it and the names of the past winners. But everyone said that the appreciation of the people in attendance really made it worth their efforts.