The Denver Post recently wrote a story about Colorado drunk driving multiple offenders who finally kill someone before they are held accountable for their crimes. One multiple offender was actually picked up for a DUI the day after he was booked and released after he ran a red light and killed a woman.
One of these multiple offenders, Richard Strock, was arrested 18 times for drunken driving, 5 times for hit-and-run charges and served time in prison before he got behind the wheel while intoxicated for the 19th time and killed his ex-wife Phyllis “Patricia” Trujillo Strock.
Richard and Patrica who were divorced, but had recently reconciled and were engaged to be remarried, were out on a night on the town at a Denver bar.
As you read Richard Strock’s story you can’t help but wonder…how in the world can this possibly happen? Eighteen prior drunk driving arrests and he still gets behind the wheel and drives drunk. Eighteen prior drunk driving arrests and his ex-wife still gets in the car with him after he had been out drinking in a bar.
His family doesn’t blame Richard Stock for killing his ex-wife, they blame the system for not mandating and providing long-term rehabilitation. They remember a loving, if strict father who didn’t keep beer in the refrigerator. But they would see the evidence of Strock’s drinking problem the next morning in the driveway; the family car parked on the curb and their father having no memory of how he got home the night before.
“I’m not trying to make excuses for my father. At the same time, he would never intentionally hurt anyone,” says Strock’s son Angelo.
The sad thing is, Richard Strock still does not tale responsibility for his actions on January 29, 2005, the night he killed his ex-wife. To this day he blames the crash on an unknown driver who crashed into them from behind, causing him to lose control of the car. Thankfully the jury didn’t buy that excuse and Strock was sentenced to 48 years in prison. Richard Strock will not have the opportunity to drive drunk for the 20th time.
Strock also insists it wasn’t his fault his ex-wife died, because he didn’t want to drive home that night. Strock says after a night drinking at a bar in a rough part of town,
she “didn’t want to leave the car there and refused to get into a cab,” he continues, “I tried to talk her out of it, but she just would not listen.”
“Once we started drinking, we just didn’t care about consequences, I guess,” say Strock. “I thought I could get away with it. I just didn’t think I was ever going to get caught again. But I did. I kept getting caught.”
Richard Strock did get caught again, but it still didn’t stop him from driving drunk. What does it take to get these repeat offenders off the road? One suggestion it to make repeat DUI arrests a felony. Another solution supported by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) is Ignition Interlock Systems.
The saddest part about Richard Strock’s story is that it didn’t have to happen. If Richard Strock hadn’t chosen to get behind the wheel of a car and drive while he was intoxicated 19 different times, Phyllis “Patricia” Trujillo Strock would be alive today.