MADD speaks out against drunk driving after child dies

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — An eight-year-old boy has succumbed to his injuries sustained from an alleged DUI crash.

Representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving Rhode Island say they will offer victim services to the family of Jahmeer Valles-Halloway, who passed away Wednesday.

Valles-Halloway had been listed in “grave condition” since Sunday’s car crash. Police said Justin Preston, 34, is accused of driving drunk with Jahmeer and a two-year-old boy in the car and crossing over the yellow line to cause a head-on collision. The other young passenger was released from the hospital that night.

Brian Arenella, program manager at MADD RI, said his first reaction after hearing the news was to go home and hug his own family.

“It’s just another tragic reminder that drunk driving and driving while intoxicated is not something that needs to happen,” said Arenella.

According to MADD, between 18 and 20 DUI-related fatalities occur each year in Rhode Island.

“That number has actually stayed pretty stagnant despite all the efforts and all the work that’s been done to increase legislation and get the message out there,” Arenella explained.

For now, Arenella said he will focus on continuing to raise awareness. “[Drunk drivers] get behind that wheel, and they don’t realize that their decision can have tragic consequences for other families in the community as well.”

The investigation into this crash and another alleged DUI that occurred on the same street Sunday night continues.