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Published on February 29th, 2016 | by The Kitsap Scene


DUI Emphasis Patrol Dedicated to Seabeck Teens Who Died in Car Crash

Kitsap and Pierce Counties are conducting DUI emphasis patrols dedicated to three Olympic High School students  from Seabeck who died in a car accident last year.

A press release from Kitsap County has more information:

A DUI emphasis patrol is to be dedicated Saturday in honor of three Olympic High School students who died in a crash when the car in which they were riding left the road, rolled over and hit a tree. The driver of the car, a 17-year-old from Bremerton, was speeding 30 miles over the limit and told officers he had smoked marijuana before getting behind the wheel.

The emphasis patrol sponsored by the Kitsap County and Pierce County Traffic Safety Task Forces and hosted by the Gig Harbor Police Department, will take place in both Kitsap and Pierce Counties on Feb. 27, a little over a year after Luther Stoudermire, 18, Kassidy Clark, 16, and Jenna Farley, 14, lost their lives.

“Put four teenagers coming from a party in a car, add excessive speed, marijuana, late night driving and unbelted passengers to the mix and you’ve got the potential for a worst case scenario,” said Lt. Pete Fisher, Bremerton Police Department.

The combined task force sponsored dedication begins at 8:30 p.m. at Gig Harbor City Hall. Following the ceremony, family members will see off officers from 14 city, state and county law enforcement agencies. The officers will hit the road around 9:30 p.m. to hunt for impaired drivers and hand out special victim memorial flyers to motorists.

The Home Safe Bar Team including the Gig Harbor Police Chief, command staff from other law enforcement agencies and the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, will be making educational visits to local bars early in the evening and again to any licensed establishment that serves someone who is later arrested by an officer working the emphasis patrol.

The Washington State Patrol’s Mobile Impaired Driving Unit will be parked Saturday night in the Bridgeway Market / Key Bank parking lot at 14004 Purdy Drive NW off of State Highway 302 near Purdy. The 36-foot motorhome staffed by troopers and equipped with three breath testing instruments and two temporary holding cells, will allow arresting officers to return quickly to the road.

“There is absolutely no good news here,” said Marsha Masters, Target Zero Manager for the Kitsap Traffic Safety Task Force. “The families of the victims along with the driver and his family have to live with the terrible truth that the young victims can’t be brought back. There’s no ‘do over’ for this tragedy.”

Local traffic safety advocates and national studies, however, report that many crashes involving young drivers could be prevented with simple measures. Dialing back Washington’s current restriction on nighttime driving for teen drivers not yet fully licensed to 9 or 10 p.m., instead of 1 a.m. as some states have done, would significantly reduce fatalities of 16 and 17 year-old drivers.

So, too, would be restricting the number of young passengers in a car driven by a teenager. One recent national study cited by the task force in Pierce County concluded that the fatal crash risk quadruples for 16 and 17-year-old drivers when there are three or more passengers younger than age 21 in a vehicle.

Party Intervention Patrol is yet another strategy that local traffic safety advocates argue can save lives. It involves law enforcement, chemical dependency professionals and volunteers who bust underage parties and provide brief interventions to youth and prevention information to parents. Since the program was first implemented in 2007 in Pierce County, there’s been nearly a 40% reduction in deaths from crashes where an underage driver, ages 15-20, tested positive for alcohol or drugs and a near 70% reduction in serious injuries.

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The Kitsap Scene is an online news magazine covering everything in Kitsap County.

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