Death of police chief's daughter: 'It impacts us all'

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - From the excitement of planning a wedding to the pain of making funeral arrangements. Gulfport Police Chief Alan Weatherford and his family have endured much over the last 24 hours after his daughter was struck and killed by a man now charged with drunk driving.

Deanna Tucker, 29, was a bride to be about to start a new chapter in her life. The wedding was scheduled for April 23rd. Now father will never get the chance to walk his little girl down the aisle.

Wreaths outside this Gulfport bridal shop mourn on Wednesday the death of Tucker. When she walked in the day before, she was an excited bride-to-be. Moments after she left, she became the victim of an alleged drunk driver.

Deputy Chief Leonard Papania said, "Our police department, we've always been very proactive on our stance on impaired driving. It's a killer. We know it. Society knows in it "

Witnesses say Darrell Edward Blappert was speeding and driving erratically on Pass Road Tuesday night before leaving the road and striking Tucker's parked vehicle. Officers say Tucker, who had just put her five-year-old son in her car, was pinned between two vehicles. Now Blappert is jailed under a $1 million dollar bond and charged with Felony Driving Under the Influence Causing Death.

"We deal with this all the time but this time it's especially close," said Papania. "I quite honestly get aggravated. We as a society can seem to make it socially acceptable and it's not. Because at the end of the day, you look at the families that have suffered from this. The healing is long and demanding and sometimes, it's never quite finished. The solution to that is so simple. don't drive impaired. "

Tucker is the daughter Gulfport chief of police Alan Weatherford. Her mother, Barbara, also works for the police department in purchasing. Officers say her loss pains them all.

"We're about family and we are all suffering today. That little girl grew up around us. We all know her. And that's something. It's a loss to us all," Papania said. "Two great friends. Two great employees of this police department are grieving the loss of their child. It impacts us all. "

Gulfport police say they've made hundreds of DUI arrests in the last 12 months but they can only catch a small portion of offenders.  They say people need to take personal responsibility for their actions. Don't drink and drive. Don't let friends drink and drive. If you see someone driving erratically, pick up the phone and call the police.

Gulfport police are asking anyone who say what happened to please contact officers at 228-868-5959.

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