Parents of drunk driver’s victims create petition to keep him behind bars

Local

CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Most of us will never forget the horrible crash along the Northway eight years ago that claimed the lives of Shenendahowa students Deanna Rivers and Christopher Stewart and seriously injured their friends Matthew Hardy and Shaker High student Bailey Wind, who had to struggle to overcome the mental and physical damage from the crash.

NEWS10 ABC has learned that the drunk driver who caused the crash is once again eligible for parole.

Debbie and Brian Rivers’s 17-year-old daughter Deanna and her friend Christopher Stewart died in the crash.

Dennis Drue, the drunk driver who caused the fatal crash, had already had nearly two dozen speeding tickets and caused several accidents prior to that night. In 2013, he was sentenced to a maximum of 15 years.

The parole board denied Drue once. Every two years, he is eligible for parole. His next scheduled meeting in front of the board is in July.

“We know he’s going to get out eventually. We just believe that he needs to serve the full time. The full 15 years,” said Debbie.

To ensure that happens, Deanna’s parents, as well as the Stewart family, have created an online petition to help secure two more years behind bars for Dennis Drue. They already have more than 19,000 signatures.

Brian: “As you know, that’s Deanna’s number. So that’s been everywhere for the last eight years. That’s got to say something for itself right there.”
Anya: “And what does that say to you that so many people have responded in this way?”
Debbie: “It’s huge. I mean think about 19,000 people. That’s a lot of people.”

Due to the coronavirus, they cannot deliver the petition in person to the parole board. Their testimony must be over the phone.

“We are going to have to try to give the true feeling of our loss over the telephone, which we don’t feel is right, but we are going to do the best that we can,” Brian said.

“We know people make mistakes, but his past proves that he didn’t change; he’s not going to change. He took Deanna’s life. He took her voice. And we are going to be her voice. And we’re going to fight for her.”

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