Baby killed by drunk driver on Christmas 14 years ago...mother reflects

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

WIGGINS, MS (WLOX) - It's been 14 years since Dianne Harris has left her house on Christmas day, a big step for her.  She's still healing from the heartbreak of leaving home with a daughter and returning without one.

"I would do anything...anything...I would give my life to have her back and not have any of this," says Dianne Harris, Wiggins.

On her way to her mother-in-law's house 14 years ago Christmas day, she, her two children, husband and sister-in-law were hit by a drunk driver.  Ten-month-old Jansen Brice didn't make it.  But, the tragedy of this crash didn't end there.

"We were rear-ended by my father-in-law who was three times the legal limit of alcohol.  He uh...basically shoved Brice's car seat into the roof of the car.  My father-in-law killed his granddaughter," says Harris.

Despite the tragic circumstances, Harris said her husband knew his father had to accept responsibility for his actions.

"We felt like it did not matter.  He was drinking and driving.  It had to be treated like anybody else," says Harris.

Ray Harris Sr. was prosecuted and sent to prison where he later died.

As she visits her daughter's gravesite on a Christmas holiday for the first time, she's reminded of happier times.  She remembers her daughter's first and last Christmas with her older brother.

"She just started talking.  Trevon, her brother, walked over to her and he wanted to see her baby.  He goes to get her baby and she says no...pointed her finger in his face and says no," says Harris.

Though it's the first time she's left the house on a Christmas holiday, throughout the year Harris works tirelessly to stop people from drinking and driving.  She often speaks at local schools and works as a victim's rights advocate.

"I tell everybody as long as I can take a breath I'm gonna do this.  I hope somebody won't have to feel what I feel...losing a child and family," says Harris.

It's a loss Harris says no one would have to experience if people would make smarter choices when it comes to alcohol.

"If I can just come up and touch you briefly and you just have an inkling of what I feel, you would never drink and drive again...never."