LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Friends of one victim killed by a drunk driver in downtown Las Vegas in early December wants the community to know driving impaired can end a life.
For Ruth Ibarra, it was a day she will never forget when she found out her best friend was dead. She had just seen him hours before the crash and in the blink of an eye, he was gone.
Ibarra says especially going into the new year it is so important people are responsible for their actions to avoid killing someone.
“I haven’t gotten the chance to mourn him, I have been in operation mode,” said Ibarra.
It was one of the most traumatic experiences she has ever been through. The friend that she would see every day is no longer alive.
“Julio is gone, but the pain that they have caused on his loved ones, not only the pain, but the financial burden, and the laws are not strict enough that is why people keep doing it,” Ibarra said.
She says in early December her best friend, Julio Maymi-Diaz died when the vehicle he was a passenger in was struck by a drunk driver. When she received the call, she says it felt like the whole world froze and she was sick to her stomach.
Ibarra says her closest friend was taken away from her because of a selfish act.
“I mean, of course, it was beyond irresponsible, but how dare you, how selfish of you to think you were good enough to get behind the wheel,” said Ibarra.
She says people need to not only think about their lives before getting behind the wheel but also the lives of others. She says Julio was just three minutes away from his home when he was killed.
“Think of for once in your life of someone else besides just you in the convenience of putting yourself behind a wheel,” said Ibarra.
Sandy Heverly, the executive director of Stop DUI, says New Year’s Eve and New Year's Day are some of the most dangerous holidays of the year.
Heverly says more than 40% of all New Year’s Eve car crashes involve a drunk driver. She is a victim herself, as she lost her mother to someone who was behind the wheel impaired.
“For every DUI fatality, there are 200 to 300 people that are affected by that one fatality,” said Heverly. “Once you kill somebody or injure someone, you can never make it right again.”
Both Heverly and Ibarra say there is no excuse to drive impaired over the New Year's Eve weekend. They say all it takes is a simple tap on your screen to schedule a ride share or to call a cab.