‘Void and ache in our soul’: Solemn tribute remembers drunk driving victims

Vigil remembers those killed by drunk drivers

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A solemn tribute was held Monday in Monday the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) works to spread a serious message during the holidays.

A candlelight vigil was held at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden where more than 100 people united.

Organizers say if one family can share their story, hopefully another family won’t have to live it. There were reflections by candlelight as the University of Richmond’s acapella ensemble, Choeur du Roi, sang jubilant tunes. Behind the music was a message.

One by one, the crowd read aloud a list of names, people who lost their lives due to drunk driving.

"There’s this void and there’s this ache in our soul that never goes away,” said Vanessa Haislip.

She won't see her daughter Melissa again. She was just 23 at the time, leaving her nursing job when an intoxicated driver took her life."He hit her and killed her instantly. Our lives stopped that night," Haislip said.

Monday night's vigil offered comfort to families of victims and hope these crimes will be prevented.

It's a message that's impacting real people with real stories, stories that never get any easier this time of year.

"Somebody that's always there and suddenly there's an empty place at the table. When we come up on Thanksgiving, there's an empty seat at the table and when it comes time for exchanging gifts, you don't quite feel like exchanging gifts sometimes when you've lost somebody that meant so much to you,” said Christopher Konschak of MADD.

It’s why MADD holds this event each year. Members and organizers want someone to see this NBC12 report and make the right choice after drinking.

"There are so many celebrations. People are going out to office parties and extra things they don’t usually do and sometimes they’re drinking and drinking too much then getting behind the wheel of the car,” Knoschak added.

And those decisions often lead to yet another family to deal with one person’s irresponsible decision.

“Don’t need to be part of a celebration like this, a candlelight vigil, because you made a bad decision and got behind the wheel of a car,” Konschak said.

MADD says roughly 5,000 people are injured each year in Virginia due to drunk drivers and that 250 are killed.

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