RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – On Monday night, Richmond residents paused to remember loved ones killed and injured on Virginia’s roads because of drunk driving. As the holidays come around every year, there are families who have an empty place at their table because of drunk driving.
“(The holidays are) a difficult time for folks that have lost a loved one or have been injured and their lives have been dramatically changed,” MADD Virginia program director Christ Konschak told 8News.
“You do not heal from something like this,” said Vanessa Haislip, whose daughter Melissa was killed when a car driven by a drunken driver slammed into hers on Old Osborne Turnpike in 2014. “She always had something fun and smart to say, she was quick to come back at you.”
Haislip described her late daughter’s infectious laugh, love for her dog, and hard work to become a registered nurse in 2013.
“Now there’s this void there that can’t be filled. It’s an ache that just will not go away,” she told 8News, standing with countless others at the remembrance vigil who knew her pain.
Under the Christmas lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, families and friends burned candles as their loved ones’ names were called out.
Haislip said she is filled with hope that because of their stories, lives will be saved.
“It didn’t’ have to happen,” she said of her daughter’s death. “There’s so many other ways you can get home that it’s just a senseless act.”
Organizers also took a moment to thank emergency services personnel and first responders, who encounter the traumatic aftermath of drunk driving and crashes caused by other causes.
In 2015 alone, 241 Virginians were killed as a result of accident related crashes. 4,917 people were injured.