Each year in Colorado, drunk driving kills more than 200 people and injures thousands of innocent victims. These crashes cost the state’s citizens tens of millions of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, increased insurance premiums, property damage, and countless other expenses. While the overall number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities has declined in recent years, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation, alcohol continues to be involved in about 40 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state.
To address the problem, the Colorado Highway Patrol set an ambitious goal for 2014: to reduce the rate of driving under the influence (DUI) highway fatalities and crashes by 10 percent. They did not succeed. In fact, the DUI fatality rate increased by 6 percent, and this year that rate increased by another 3 percent. Even worse, the rate of DUI citations increased by 23 percent compared to the previous year. State officials also sought to reduce the number of crashes statewide, but unfortunately, that number also increased by more than 5 percent this year alone. Of those crashes, fatal crashes were up by as much as 15 percent and post-crash DUI citations were up nearly 3 percent.
Statistics like these are all too real to the family of fallen Colorado State Patrol trooper, Jaimie Jursevics, who was killed last month by a drunk driver whiles she was responding to an accident near Castle Rock in Fremont County. The 33-year-old Jursevics left behind a husband and her baby daughter. According to CBS Denver, investigators say retired Army Col. Eric Henderson of Peyton, who was charged with vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a deadly accident and DUI, admitted to drinking several beers before and after a Denver Broncos game. Officers say when arrested Henderson’s speech was slurred, he smelled of alcohol, and allegedly cried while saying, “I killed a cop.”
At Jursevics’ funeral, hundreds of officers, some from as far away as New York and Oregon, gathered at Denver First Church of the Nazarene in Englewood to pay tribute to the officer and memorialize her life. “We have sent to heaven one of our best,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper at the service. “This is not only a tremendous loss for Jursevics’ family, but for all of Colorado.”
During her time in service, Jursevics was vigilant in trying to remove drunk drivers from Colorado roadways, having arrested many drivers suspected of drunk driving and in the weeks before her death, even testifying in the case of another motorist accused of a DUI-related crash.
“No matter how many times we say don’t drink and drive, we still have hundreds of drunk driving arrests every year,” says Sergeant Lori Bronner, of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. “Unfortunately this is another tragic accident that resulted in the death of a trooper.”
If you or someone you love were injured by a drunk or impaired driver, contact a knowledgeable Colorado DUI accident lawyer who can help you understand your rights and get you the justice you deserve.