Sobriety check honors three Harrison Co. DUI victims

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A roadblock planned will honor the lives of three people who died after being hit by a drunk driver. It was exactly five years ago Saturday when Bill Downs lost his son, his daughter-in-law and his Godson when they were hit head on while traveling a Harrison County road.

Downs is the now the president of the Mississippi Gulf Coast chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He said it's hard wondering what could have been.

It was October 6th, 2007. Brad Downs, 21, was driving along Highway 53 headed to the movie theatre. In the car were Brad's wife Samantha Downs, 21, and his brother Chris Dafoe, 24. They never made it to movie. Bill Downs said as the Brad's car approached a curve, a drunk driver slammed into his vehicle going 80 miles an hour. Brad and Samantha were killed instantly. Chris died on the way to the hospital. Bill Downs said he believes his children never knew what hit them.

"It's a day that we remember the death of our children, but it's also a new beginning," Bill Downs said. "A chance to reach out to other victims and help them understand that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That you can take something negative, something tragic and make something positive out of it. "

Ten months after the tragedy, Downs and his wife joined MADD to reach out to other families of drunk driving victims. His dream is to eliminate the problem through education.

"We're trying to convey to everyone that drunk driving is a choice. It's not a mistake," Downs said. "Unfortunately, that night two women made a choice that not only cost the lives of one of them, but cost the lives of three others."

"So what I try to do on the Gulf Coast is I try to go around to the schools. I try to go around to the businesses," Downs said. "Anybody that will have me speak."

Chris had just landed his first full time job. Brad and Samantha were newlyweds. He wanted to be a mechanic. She wanted to be a teacher.

"They just had all these hopes and dreams because their life was starting. Brad and Samantha were hoping to have kids, providing us with grandkids," Downs said. "Now there will never be any grandkids. My name stops with me. Losing these three kids was losing our future."

Downs said, "This is my life now being the voice of the victims and telling their story."

The Gulfport Police and the Mississippi Highway Patrol are conducting the sobriety checkpoint in his children's honor. Downs said the drunk driver in the accident was also killed in the crash. 

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