Lives lost but not forgotten - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Lives lost but not forgotten

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or M.A.D.D., teamed up with Biloxi Police Department for a cruise-in and candlelight memorial to honor victims of drunk driving.

"I'm here tonight on behalf of our daughter DeAnna who was killed by a drunk driver," said Chief of Gulfport Police Department Alan Weatherford

"I lost three children to a drunk driver in 2007 on Highway 53. I am their voice," said M.A.D.D. Mississippi Gulf Coast chapter leader Bill Downs.

"20 years ago, my daughter who was 15 years at the time was killed by a drunk driver," said M.A.D.D. National president Jan Withers.

They gathered to honor the lives of their loved ones and send a message.

"If you're going to go out and drink, don't drive," said Chief Weatherford.

Chief Weatherford started this event last year in Gulfport to honor the life of his daughter DeAnna Tucker.

"March 29, 2011 she was hit and killed by a drunk driver," said Chief Weatherford.

Tucker died at age 29, leaving behind her 6-year-old son.

As they lit a candle in her honor, they recognized that Tucker's life may be lost but it is not forgotten.

Jan Withers came down from Maryland to honor the life of her daughter Alyssa Joy Withers who died 20 years ago.

"I carry Alyssa with me everywhere I go," said Withers.

Now, the police department and M.A.D.D. are collaborating to let the world know this is a preventable crime.

The focus of the candlelight service was for victims who lost their lives to drunk driving, but the night also drew in others who were affected by impaired driving and lived to tell the tale.

"In 2009, I was hit by a drunk driver and almost died," said drunk driving victim Shanna Bordelon.

Now she lives in pain everyday.

"I have a herniated disk in my neck, two in my back. I have arthritis in both my neck in back," said Bordelon.

As each candle burned, it stood as a symbol of a daughter, a son, a mother.

Tears were shed for loved ones, hoping that their father, brother, sister's lives can now serve a greater purpose.

It's a sacrifice they've accepted, but, they say, if they could turn back the hands of time, they would.

"We miss her and we love her," said Chief Weatherford.

"I love you Alyssa. I miss you so much," said Withers.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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