TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)– For many, Independence Day is a time to celebrate, but for the French family it is a nightmare. One year ago, Tara French was hit and killed by a drunk driver.
French was a wife, a mother and a grandmother. She was with her family celebrating the Fourth of July when she crossed the street, and stood in the median, confronting neighbors about their firework debris landing on her family. A drunk driver hit French while she was standing on a curb. Her daughter, Jolene, watched it happen.
“It really feels like the wind was knocked out of you, when you see someone you love laying there on the concrete, knowing there is not a whole lot you can do for her,” Jolene French said.
Even though French felt like there was nothing she could do, she still tried to help her mom.
“I was there doing CPR on my mother that night,” French said.
The Frenchs are trying to get through this one day at a time, even though it feels as terrible now as it did the day it happened. The memory is vivid in French’s mind.
“Just the look on her face looking up at me, it’s still hard sometimes to go to sleep,” she said.
Prosecutors say 32-year-old Jason Patterson is the man who was driving drunk and hit Tara French. According to court records, he is charged with involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless second-degree murder, a DUI and driving at an unsafe speed for the conditions.
“He’s got to live with that for the rest of his life, and he is forcing us to do the same,” French said.
She wants people to think twice and realize there are so many other ways to get home on this holiday other than drunk driving.
“It’s not worth it. Somebody else’s life is way worth more than you getting home that night. It’s too late for my mom, but hopefully it doesn’t happen again,” she said.
She shared this story in hopes that it will save someone else’s life. She hopes people will use Uber, a taxi, or a ride from sober friend instead of driving drunk.
Patterson’s trial is set to start on August 7th.