“Do it for yourself, do it for every mother, do it for Josh,” Demetria L. Gholston said.
Gholston’s son, Joshua Keith, died shortly after a December 2010 crash on Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County. She said Keith’s 1999 Cadillac DeVille was struck by one car and pushed into the HOV lane, where a 1997 Mitsubishi Montero, driven by illegal immigrant Brayan Rivera, hit Keith’s vehicle again. Rivera, who was charged with driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter, then checked out of the hospital and hasn’t been found.
“I can’t get any justice for the death of my child,” Gholston said at the Smyrna Community Center while breaking into tears. “There is a man who is now free who was arrested two months before killing my child.”
While it won’t bring her son back, Gholston advised people to do what they can to avoid drunken driving. She spoke at a news conference kicking off the TEAM Georgia 2012 Safe Holiday Campaign. The campaign combines the “safe and sober” transportation coalition with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Working with Checker Cab and Budweiser and AAA’s “Tow to Go” program, the organizations promise a free ride home to partygoers.
“Families are devastated when they have a loss,” said Smyrna City Councilman Ron Fennel, chairman of TEAM Georgia.
“But they’re even more devastated when it’s a preventable loss like a drunken driver.”
Fennel’s volunteer group is made up of political, sports and business leaders. It positions representatives at events at the Georgia Dome, Turner Field and Philips Arena to secure pledges of people to serve as designated drivers. In return, the drivers get a free T-shirt, sandwich and soft drink and are entered in a contest for free tickets to an upcoming event.
But having a presence at Falcons, Braves and Hawks games also allows the organization to heighten its message, Fennel said.
Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, said that while one in four driving fatalities is alcohol related, December is also a good time to warn people of other roadway dangers.
“The truth of it is, someone who is texting and driving is just as dangerous as someone who is drinking and driving,” Blackwood said. “We want people to enjoy this holiday with family and friends and come back safely.”