Pryor community members walk to create awareness about drunk driving prevention
PRYOR, Okla. (KTUL) - Nearly 3,000 alcohol related crashes have occurred in Oklahoma. The latest numbers from the state's Highway Safety Office show hundreds of the crashes have been fatal. The statistics ring true for one mother in Pryor.
Brenda Branson was joined by several members of the community Saturday for the second Voices for Victims of DUI Walk. Branson's daughter, 20-year-old Kendra Gonzalez, was killed by a drunk driver April 25, 2015.
Branson said she started this campaign last year to hopefully prevent someone else from losing a loved one.
"Be responsible, you know? It's 100 percent preventable. Don't take someone else's life because it could be you, it could be your family member that you take," said Branson.
Not much was said from the dozens of community members participating in the walk, but each step they took spoke volumes. They said their stride is an effort to create awareness against drunk driving.
"I've had people tell me 'I drive better when I'm drunk.' What are you going to tell the family when you kill someone? Is that the excuse you're going to use?" said Branson.
The mother said she had a very difficult time dealing with her daughter's death for at least four months. She then realized that Kendra would not want her mother to be upset. Branson said she instantly thought of an idea to use the tragedy as a lesson.
"I wanted to start a walk in honor of my daughter but also in honor of all the loved ones that we have lost to this 100 percent preventable selfish act," said Branson.
Statistics of alcohol related crashes in Oklahoma are starting to decrease. Event coordinators said those numbers help give the youth a better understanding of what's at risk.
"If you're going to change the world you're going to have to start with your children. Eventually if we work with alcohol prevention with youth it's going to eventually affect them in adulthood," said Crystal Stout, executive director of Hope for Youth.
Branson said she is so pleased so many people participated in her walk in creating awareness and is already looking forward to next year.
"Kendra loved this community and there's so much love for each other when something like this happens. And for everyone to get involved it warms your heart, it really makes you feel good," said Branson.
Branson said the driver responsible for Kendra's death is sitting in jail on a $1 million bond. She explained he is scheduled for court and a possible sentence May 18.