Law enforcement agencies all over Franklin County are going to be looking for intoxicated drivers this holiday season and they are remembering three Grove City men while doing it.
The Franklin County DUI Task Force announced plans to increase patrols on Nov. 21 at the Grove City Police Department. On hand, were the families of Lucas Carmean, Brandon Kent and Joshua Worthington. The three Grove City High School graduates were killed on Christmas Day in 2004 when a driver going the wrong way on I-71 north, near 17th Avenue, struck them in a head-on collision. Carl Booth, coordinator of the Franklin County DUI Task Force, said the driver, Donald Lee Richardson, was drunk.
"These deaths were preventable," Booth remarked.
The task force announced that they would hold two sobriety checkpoints this holiday season. One was held on Nov. 23 on Frank Road, east of U.S. Route 62 in Franklin Township. Deputies checked 347 vehicles and made three DUI arrests and issued a total of 35 citations. The other checkpoint will be on Dec. 21 in a location yet to be announced. The checkpoints are in remembrance of Carmean, Kent and Worthington.
Booth explained that agencies are stepping up patrols because, as of Thanksgiving, the travel season starts.
"People start hosting parties from Thanksgiving to New Year’s and we know some of those gatherings involve alcohol," said Booth. "We are asking everyone to be responsible,"
He explained that 20 law enforcement agencies in Ohio will be out in full force to catch drivers who have been drinking. He said last year 41 people were killed on Ohio roadways and nearly half of them were alcohol-related.
"Getting behind the wheel while drunk is irresponsible and selfish," said Booth. "If you drink and drive, you will go to jail. Hopefully your car and license will be the only thing you lose – not your life."
Franklin County deputies ask that if you see an impaired driver, call your local police or report it to 1-800-GRAB-DUI. They are also asking those who host parties to be responsible and find others means of transportation for guests who have been drinking.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety is providing the Franklin County DUI Task Force with $168,000 in state money that will help enforcement efforts. Local agencies have also supplied funding assistance.
Grove City Mayor Cheryl Grossman said she hopes officers and deputies can bring attention to the dangers of drinking and driving.
"The families of the three Grove City men certainly know those dangers," she commented. "Their families and the community were deeply hurt by the loss."
Carmean, 19, was a 2003 graduate of GCHS. Kent, 21, graduated in 2001 and Worthington, 19, was a member of the 2004 class. All three played high school football. Kent and Worthington were cousins. Kent and Carmean were students at Columbus State Community College. Worthington was a student at Otterbein College, where he was a member of the football team. He was also All-OCC in both high school football and basketball.
Richardson was charged with vehicular homicide and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.