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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • 'We can slow it down'

  • John Groves said most people don't understand how devastating fatalities stemming from driving under the influence crashes can be until they've heard from families such as his.
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  • John Groves said most people don't understand how devastating fatalities stemming from driving under the influence crashes can be until they've heard from families such as his.
    Groves and his wife, Teresa, lost their son, Matthew, after he was struck by a drunk driver in March 2011 in Leavenworth.
    "He was a real good kid," Groves said of Matthew.
    Groves talked about his son Monday during a luncheon for the Leavenworth Police Department and Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office.
    Groves and his wife volunteer for the Kansas DUI Impact Center, which is based in Wichita. They arranged for the lunch as part of an annual Memorial Drive for DUI Victims campaign.
    "We just want to thank you guys," Groves told officers assembled at the Justice Center.
    He asked them to keep doing what they're doing. He also distributed red ribbons for officers to display on their vehicles. Written on the ribbons were the names of people who were killed or injured in DUI crashes, including his son.
    Groves said his son was always willing to help someone in need.
    He was struck by an intoxicated driver while helping a stranded motorist on Eisenhower Road. He was 21.
    The driver pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence and other charges.
    Groves said people who are convicted of DUIs and serve time eventually get to go home. But, he added, the families of people killed in DUIs are serving life sentences.
    Groves said the red ribbons tied onto law enforcement vehicles will serve as a reminder to be on the lookout for intoxicated drivers.
    He said DUI laws in all states should be enforced to the fullest extent.
    Groves said he doesn't believe DUIs will ever be stopped completely.
    "At least we can slow it down," he said.
    Undersheriff Jim Sherley said officers will be redoubling their DUI enforcement efforts during the holidays.
    Sherley told officers who had assembled for the lunch that what they do "directly affects this mission that is so important" to the Groves family and many others.
    Groves said a similar luncheon is planned for today in Lansing to thank members of the city's police department.
    He said a total of 24 law enforcement agencies are being reached across the state through the Memorial Drive for DUI Victims project.
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