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DUI injury crash numbers down, but are still an issue in Fresno

Fresno, California - The Fresno Police Department continues to aggressively crackdown on drunk drivers using additional resources and the numbers show it is making a difference. Compared to this time last year the Fresno Police Department reports DUI injury crashes are down more than 40-percent, but are still an issue. Monday a crash happened at Olive and Fifth landing three people in the hospital in critical condition. Investigators say drugs may have played a role. Families impacted in DUI crashes hope the Fresno Police Department won't let up in its mission to stop these crashes. 

Drinkers have a choice, victims in crashes like this do not. It's become the motto for officers at Fresno DUI crash investigations.  
     
"The guy who killed my parents, he did have a choice. He didn't have to get into his vehicle. He could've called his friends, or Uber. You know, my parents were just working and trying to come home to my little brother and they never got a chance to even do that." said Sarah Casas. 

Casas and her siblings are trying to move on without their parents Daniel and Ramona Mendez. The couple was killed in a devastating crash allegedly caused by Michael Robert Merritt-Hutchins, a suspected drunk driver who reportedly rear-ended the couple at more than 80 miles-per-hour as they were delivering newspapers. 

"I just hope the next time somebody gets in the car and they are drinking I hope they think about what we're saying," said Casas. 

In the four months since the deadly crash the Fresno Police Department is now deploying motorcycle officers to patrol for DUI drivers seven days a week. Mother's Against Drunk Driving spokesperson Laurie Pinheiro is also trying to stop scenes like this. Her son Michael a Montana State Trooper was killed by a drunk driver she now shares her story with first time DUI offenders.  

"When I'm done speaking I have grown men of all ages crying. Tears running down their face," said Pinheiro.  

Pinheiro says she wishes people would get the message before mistakes are made and lives are lost. 
     
"I never thought I'd have to bury some one I loved from a drunk driver and Michael was killed. Everyone thinks it is going to be somebody else and I tell everybody every week somebody has to be somebody else's somebody else," said Pinheiro.  

The Fresno Police Department is looking at memorializing DUI checkpoints in the future to continue sharing the stories of families impacted by this. If you ever see a drunk driver you're urged to call 9-1-1. It could save a life.  


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