TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – National Crime Victims’ Week (NCVRW) runs from April 23 through the 29. This year’s theme, Survivor Voices: Elevate. Engage. Effect. Change. Rensselaer County honoring those affected by DWI with a memorial ceremony Tuesday.
The DWI Victims Memorial on Congress Street in Troy has 37 names listed on a wall to remember the lives lost.
“By remembering your loved ones, we keep this issue alive and hopefully prevent further tragedy. It’s impossible to know how much good we’re doing, but I do know we have no new names this year,” said Rensselaer County District Attorney Mary Pat Donnelly.
More than 100 people gathered for the somber ceremony, among them was Amy Plantz, who lost her son Chris nearly 20 years ago, and spoke about her loss.
“As we come together united in tragedy and grief, we all have different stories. But the end result is the same. We have all lost someone that we love. Someone that meant the world to us, a brother, a sister, a mother, a father, a husband, a wife, a child,” said Plantz.
The Rensselaer County DWI Victims Memorial is a one of kind in New York and was erected in 2000 on Allison Bodnar’s 19th birthday, one year after she was killed just 100 feet away. Her father, Dean Bodnar, sharing some words for those who may be experiencing what he went through more than two decades ago.
“It’s never going to make sense what happened to your loved one. You just have to find a way to move on. You’ve got to be tough. You got to keep moving forward as hard as it is,” said Bodnar.
Officials at the ceremony also noting that it’s not just drunk driving, but say drugged driving is also a growing concern.
“We’re going to keep fighting the fight. This is an issue that’s not going away. People continue to be arrested for DWI’s and now we’re seeing, you know, driving while ability impaired by drugs, and that’s also increasing,” said Rensselaer County Stop DWI Coordinator, Michael Dinardo.
“New York State needs to remove the loopholes in our laws that prevent prosecutors from holding accountable those drivers who choose to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs. These legal technicalities as we call them deny justice to our victims and their family,” said Donnelly.