Family Fights for Permanent DWI Memorial Markers

Family mourns again after memorial marker taken down

By Tammy Mutasa
|  Thursday, Feb 9, 2012  |  Updated 7:33 PM CDT
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A Mesquite family is fighting to keep memorial signs for victims killed by a drunk drivers standing.

Tammy Mutasa, Mesquite Reporter

A Mesquite family is fighting to keep memorial signs for victims killed by a drunk drivers standing.

The first highway memorial marker for a victim killed by a drunken driver has been taken down, and her family is asking state lawmakers to allow the signs to stay.

On Tuesday, the Texas Department of Transportation delivered Rachel Blasingame's memorial marker to her parents' home.

"It's just a little bit of my heart, you know, being ripped again," said her mother, Julie Blasingame.

She said she does not see why the signs have to be taken down.

"Other people have asked me, why do they need to come down?' Because we need to have constant reminders to not drink and drive," Blasingame said.

Her daughter was killed by a drunken driver in 2003 off Interstate 635 and Military Parkway in Mesquite. She was 16 years old.

"It's like losing a part of yourself," said Guy Blasingame, her father. "There's an emptiness, a void in your life that doesn't get filled."

The Blasingames worked with Texas lawmakers in 2007 to get highway memorial signs to mark where drunken-driving crashes had happened as a reminder to drivers.

State law requires the signs to have to come down after two years. The original law allowed signs for up one year. While legislators worked on a bill to extend the time limit, the signs were allowed to stay for four years.

"The influence that it has had over the past few years would not be there," Guy Blasingame said. "There would be a blank spot."

In total, 126 memorial markers stand across the state. Others will come down when they reach their two-year mark will come down.

Wendy Birdsell, who walked by one marker in Dallas every day, said it is a mistake to take them down.

"I think it's devastating because it's a reminder of what happened because of some people's negligence," she said.

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