MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Department of Public Safety says the night before Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous for drunk-driver related deaths in Minnesota.
That is why they hosted an unusual reunion Tuesday afternoon.READ MORE: 'Hockey Party’: Hundreds Compete In Pond Hockey Tournament's Opening Weekend Finale
Courtney Pegones says she remembers the day of the drunk-driving crash that killed her mother like it was yesterday.
“It was the worst day of my life,” Pegones said. “It was Jan. 31, 2002. I had just finished basketball practice. Outside I waited and waited for my mom to come pick me up, but she never came.”
Pegones’ mom, Nancy Robling, was killed near Jordan.
“In just 35 years, my mom accomplished a lot, but she could have done so much more if Craig would have made a different decision that day,” she said.READ MORE: 'This Is All About Inclusion': The 5 Simple Rules Of Wheelchair Etiquette
Craig Barnd was driving drunk, and was charged with vehicular homicide.
“I am responsible for Courtney not having a mom,” Barnd said. “I made choices, and they were bad choices, and I have no excuses for them … My blood alcohol level was at .16.”
Barnd and Pegones are willing to speak about that fatal crash to help others avoid a DWI tragedy. The Minnesota State Patrol is also stepping up enforcement.
“We want to see no more families be torn apart,” Lt. Tiffani Schweigart of the Minnesota State Patrol said. “Tomorrow through Jan. 2, there are going to be extra police officers throughout the state; troopers, deputies and officers working every weekend. And their goal is going to be [to] take those drunk drivers off the road before they hurt themselves, or before they kill another person.”MORE NEWS: John Jones Pleads Guilty In Hit-And-Run Crash That Killed Bridget O'Keefe Dunn
The DPS says nearly 25 percent of deaths on Minnesota roads are related to drunk driving.