Mothers Against Drunk Driving held its fourth annual candlelight vigil Sunday, with more than 50 law enforcement officers, residents, survivors and victims’ family members in attendance.
“We are here to remember our deceased. We are here to honor the survivors. We are here to honor our allies who help us fight this war against drunk driving,” Suzette Pylant of MADD said of the event, which was held at the Rogers Hotel.
“We are here to honor the memories of those who died and those who have survived the results of drunk driving,” said Pylant, whose opening included the presentation of a video of people who have fallen victims of drunken driving. Four of those victims were law enforcement officers, of which three died, she said.
Music for the vigil was by the Barajas family.
“I had a nephew, Gabriel Rivera, that was lost. He was a wonderful person. He was full of life. “We want to celebrate his life with our music,” Betty Barajas said prior to the family’s final performance of the evening.
The keynote speaker was the Rev. J.B. Hurd of the Change Ministry.
“It’s a time for sharing, support and remembrance of those who are no longer with us,” Hurd said during his address. “We have loved ones who have gone away. We have loved ones who have survived these tragic circumstances. We will never understand why it had to be mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives.”
As a remembrance, the house lights were dimmed and candles were lighted in remembrance of the victims.
During the ceremony, law enforcement officers were honored with certificates, including Anthony Parrish of Waxahachie Police Department, Ronnie Goodson of Red Oak Police Department, Shane Thompson of the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office, James Loney of Glenn Heights Police Department, Rodney Rickman of Ennis Police Department and Chris Simmons of Midlothian Police Department.
Other area law enforcement honorees included Steve Mack of Alvarado Police Department, Richard Eakin of Grandview Police Department, trooper Nisha Thompson of the Kaufman office of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Flavio Salazar of Lancaster Police Department, Mike Pruitt of Rio Vista Police Department, Josh Phillips of Terrell Police Department, John Fields of Burleson Police Department and John Crane of Venus Police Department.
“There is much work to be done in our community. We need to see the laws of our community are carried out,” Pylant said. “We need to see new laws are created to protect us.”