DUI Moving Memorial makes stop in Wellsboro

WELLSBORO – The state DUI Association brought its Victim’s Moving Memorial to the borough last Thursday to raise awareness about the dangers of impaired driving during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday travel period, typically one of the worst times for drunken-driving crashes.

The memorial, featuring the names of Pennsylvanians killed by drunk drivers, was on display for two hours at midday.

Peggy Caldwell-Heichel, who lost several members of her family, including her late husband David and three of her six children, in 1990 to a drunk driver, was the featured speaker.

Surrounded by surviving members of her family, except her youngest son, who was only 9 months old at the time of the crash and now is in school in Philadelphia, Caldwell-Heichel asked those in attendance to “not drink and drive.”

“If people wouldn’t drink and drive, we wouldn’t have any names on this wall,” she said.

Killed in the crash 23 years ago on Route 249 were Pastor David Caldwell and their children, Deborah, Jeremiah and Phoebe.

Eldest daughter Mary, now 32, was severely injured in the crash.

Caldwell-Heichel; Kezia, now 25; and Ezekiel, now 23, were not in the vehicle.

Kezia, who was 2at the time of the crash, said she remembers very little about her father and siblings, only what she has been told by her elder sister and mother.

“Hopefully, people will get it – if you drink, don’t drive,” Caldwell-Heichel said.

Borough Police Chief Jim Bodine reminded people that there is a “zero tolerance” for drunk drivers in the borough, and said, “if you choose to drink, find a friend who is sober to drive you.”

Chris Smith, highway safety specialist with the state Department of Transportation, said there are more than 2,000 names on the walls inside the DUI trailer, several hundred of which were added in the last 18 months.

“But there are more than that affected. There are families, friends, children left without parents and those who must take them in and raise them, so its not just the names on the walls,” she said.

The moving DUI Memorial was conceived by Stephen Ernie, executive director of the DUI Association.

Also in attendance were representatives of the Tioga County District Attorney’s office and state police.

The visit was sponsored by PennDOT, the Community Traffic Safety Project, the Wellsboro Police Department and the Pennsylvania DUI Association.