By Amanda Amsel
Many central Ohio families are grieving the loss of a loved one.
In an attempt to ease this sorrow and raise awareness, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Ohio) held a Day of Remembrance on Dec. 3 at the Grove City Community Club.
The event correlated with the National Day of Remembrance and honored those who have been killed or injured in drunk and drugged driving accidents.
“I’m here today because our daughter was killed 25 years ago because she got into a car with a drunk driver,” said Randy Young, grieving parent and program coordinator for MADD Ohio.
“She was at a sleepover and made a bad decision to get in the car with someone that had been drinking and the car she was in hit a tree. She died in the accident, as well as another individual.”
Young said that events like this help families grieve and also meet others who have gone through similar losses.
“We are a part of a club you don’t wish upon your worse enemy,” he said. “No one should ever have to bury their child.”
During the event, a slideshow highlighted those who had been injured or lost and a candlelight vigil gave families an opportunity to reflect.
Young said that after losing his daughter he wanted to do something so that no other parents would have to go through what he and his wife have been through.
“I have seen people go through this and become bitter and haven’t learned to deal with the pain,” he said. “I wanted to make something positive out of this, so I got involved with MADD. Today I give speeches, speak to other parents and children and try to educate the community.”
Young said the biggest thing he learned from this experience is to talk to your children about drugs and alcohol. He said his wife and he knew his daughter had tried alcohol before, but swept it under the rug instead of educating her on never getting in a car with a drunk driver and telling her that she could call them in any situation, no matter what.
“Underage drinking happens and today kids are also using drugs and driving,” Young said. “We try to educate parents on keeping these lines of communication open so they don’t go through what we have been through. I also hope by speaking to parents who have gone through this they understand that they are not alone and we are here for them.”
Parents who lost their children as a result of others driving while impaired were also at the event to give their perspective.
Corinne Gasper of Westerville was at the event to remember her daughter Jennifer Hrobuchak.
“Jennifer got a call to come into work in the middle of the night because an alarm was going off and on her way to her store she was hit by a driver who was high on marijuana,” Gasper said. “The driver was going 82 miles per hour and ran a red light and hit her. She died instantly.”
Hrobuchak was 22 years old when she died in 2012 and had just graduated from Notre Dame College.
“The driver of the car only got two years and only served 15 months,” Gasper said. “What is even more shocking is that his license was only suspended for ten years, even though he was a repeat offender that had already gotten an OVI before this accident.”
Gasper said that MADD has been a rock for her and has been with her and her family every step of this process. From attending court hearings to being a sounding board for her, she said if it wasn’t for MADD she would have not gotten through this.
She also said she is working toward clearing up the misconception that marijuana isn’t a dangerous drug.
“People think when you smoke marijuana and drive you are more cautious,” she said. “I can tell you from my experience that that isn’t always the case. This guy was high as a kite on marijuana when he recklessly drove and killed my daughter.”
Gasper also has dedicated her life to educating the community and helping other parents who are going through these unbearable losses. She said she speaks to high school students, has been interviewed by the local television stations and newspapers and volunteers with MADD.
“I think Jennifer would be proud of me,” she said. “She always pushed me to fulfill my dreams, so she would be happy that I’m trying to help others. I also don’t want her forgotten, so this is a positive way to keep her memory alive and ensure she didn’t die in vain. Jennifer would want me to help others and save as many lives as possible.”