INDIANAPOLIS – Two mothers who lost their children to drunk drivers shared their stories Thursday in hopes of changing legislation behind the crime.
Pam Kelshaw lost her 17-year-old daughter Silina during a drunk driving crash in Noblesville in 2002. She said although it’s been almost 15 years, she continues to live with the pain.
“Mother's Day is hard. All holidays are hard,” said Kelshaw. “I get up and I go through it because I still have my husband, I still have my son, and I have my family. I get myself out of bed and face another day for them and to help Silina save other lives."
Kelshaw said she is upset about her daughter’s death, but she’s also bothered by the release of Jimmy Powers – the man behind the drunk driving crash. Powers served four of his eight-year sentence for reckless homicide before he was released.
"These people are going to prison and getting out and living a full life. While we're still dealing with a life sentence. The laws need to be tougher,” she said.
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Colleen Sheehey-Church’s son was also killed in a drunk driving accident at the age of 18. The incident gave the mother a reason to join Mothers Against Drunk Driving – where she is now the national president.
According to the organization, the average drunk driver gets behind the wheel of a car 80 times before their first traffic offense.
Sheehey-Church said she is pleased Indiana lawmakers passed Senate Bill 479, which will enhance the penalty for those operating while intoxicated who cause death if they are a repeated traffic violator. The law, going into effect July 1, will allow a separate charge for each victim in the vehicle if the driver leaves the scene of the crash.
“Our number one goal is that one day I’m out of a job,” said Sheehey-Church. “I want to be able to say there are no more victims in the state of Indiana and that is why I am here."