WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — They’re always watching, but the eagle eyes of Rhode Island’s police officers are going to be laser-focused on state thruways Friday night, as a state DUI Task Force hits the roads.
And a 17-year-old victim of a crash where DUI is alleged to be the culprit is asking drivers to refrain from destructive decisions.
The warning was sent out Friday morning in a news conference at Warwick’s police headquarters.
North Kingstown Police Det. Donald Barrington was one of the event organizers, kicking it off with the message to not drive if you’ve been drinking. He and a throng of high-ranking officers in uniform lined the room.
“I can guarantee you: if you or a loved one continue to ignore our warnings, you will eventually be arrested or even worse — involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in serious bodily injury or death,” Det. Barrington said.
Later in the program, a young woman stepped forward. Kyra Boullier was the passenger in a car hit just this past July in North Kingstown. The driver of the other car is alleged to have been driving while intoxicated.
The crash created emotional upheaval for her and her family, she said. The injuries Kyra sustained in the crash were minor, but ruined her chance at a summer internship. She’s studying cosmetology.
The crash also took Kyra away from her summer job — and a normal life. The injuries “caused me to lose out on a good portion of my summer with family and friends,” she said. Appointments with doctors and physical therapists are now constant in her life, and her six brothers and sisters have to help out — and are also getting involved in activism to fight drunk driving.
“Last year, we buried 54 people from car accidents in Rhode Island,” said Rhode Island State Police Col. Steven O’Donnell. “Typically, one-third are from drunk driving.”
Pointing at Kyra, who was flanked by her family, he said, “That’s a family that’s smiling today. Several weeks ago, that could have been a family in mourning. Drunk driving doesn’t just affect the person that dies, or the person that kills somebody; it affects a family. Hundreds of children and families that go right down the line.
“Today, it’s a good story in the sense that you survived it,” Col. O’Donnell said to Kyra, “And it’s great that we have a young victim that can stand up and say how wrong this is.”