Bakersfield Life Magazine September 2014

Page 70


First local Walk/Run Like MADD 5K aims to raise funds, DUI awareness By Jorge Barrientos


22-year-old respiratory therapist named Princess, who was the primary provider for her family. A 25year-old pregnant mother-to-be. A 6-month-old daughter and sister to five, including a twin.

What do all of these people have in common? These are just some of the innocent lives taken away from Bakersfield this year at the hands of people driving under the influence. In 2013, Kern saw 15 DUI-related fatalities. This year, Bakersfield has seen 10 DUI-related fatalities and 73 DUI-related injury crashes and is averaging nearly 12 DUI arrests per day, according to Bakersfield Police Department statistics from early August. In an effort to raise awareness, generate funds to stop drunken driving and underage drinking locally, and provide

Faith Mozeke Heath embraces Rene Aguirre in the halls of Kern County Superior Court following the arraignment of alleged drunken drivers who prosecutors say killed their loved ones in separate accidents. Aguirre lost his girlfriend Vanessa Carrillo, and their unborn baby girl, while Mozeke Heath and her husband Donte Heath, (right), lost their daughter LayJah Heath. 70

Bakersfield Life Magazine

September 2014

support to victims and survivors of drunk driving crashes, the Bakersfield/Kern County affiliate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving will host its first-ever “Walk/Run Like MADD” 5K on Sept. 20, at The Park at River Walk. “This is our moment to say enough is enough,” said Carla Pearson, program coordinator and victim advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County. “We need to stop this madness on our roadways.” In 2002, Pearson’s stepson, 23-year-old Adam Pierce, was killed by a repeat DUI offender. Pearson has campaigned for victim’s rights in and out of the courtroom ever since. Her fight led to changes in California law in 2002 that warned convicted DUI offenders that if they drove while drunk and someone died, they could be charged with murder. Locally, MADD Kern County has assisted in more than 500 cases involving DUIs since 2011. Pearson hopes the 5K also shows residents they can help make a change locally. The inaugural event is supported by the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, Bakersfield Police Department, California Highway Patrol and local sponsors, including Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles. — Jorge Barrientos is the marketing director for the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain Cohn Stiles, and a board member in charge of marketing for the MADD Kern County “Walk/Run Like MADD.”