The impact of impaired driving

The following is a press release from Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

Each summer in Washington State, an average of 149 people die in traffic crashes. This is the deadliest season of the year on our roads.

During 2016, impaired drivers were involved in crashes that resulted in 277 deaths and another 371 serious injuries. These crashes are completely preventable.

DUI patrols will be out statewide from Aug. 18 through Sept. 4 looking for drivers under the influence.

In King County, most cities will be out on roadways looking for impaired drivers.

The importance of these patrols is emphasized and close to the heart of Jack Fletcher from Battle Ground, Washington.

He was a motivated teenager who loved sports of all kind.

He also loved fire science and was serving as a cadet chief with the fire cadet program.

When Fletcher graduated from Prairie High School in June 2014, he headed to Central Oregon on a full-ride fire science scholarship with the Crook County Fire & Rescue’s student firefighter training program.

Six weeks after school started, Fletcher headed home from school hoping to surprise his family and some visiting relatives, but he never reached them.

Instead, a man who had been drinking beer and tequila shots with a friend was driving his pick-up truck on the same highway in the opposite direction from Fletcher.

Other drivers on the road who called 911 reported that the truck driver was speeding and weaving across traffic lanes. He was traveling about 80 mph when he hit Fletcher’s car head-on.

The emergency responders didn’t think he would live, given the extent of his injuries.

He spent five days in a coma and his right arm was broken in three places. He even had some fingers amputated. He also lost sight in his right eye and shattered almost every bone in his face. The most severe damage of them all was brain damage. He was not able to talk, walk and the crash altered his short-term memory.

He endured months of surgeries and a year of rehabilitation and in order to care for him, his mother had to quit her job. The medical costs were more than a half million dollars.

To protect his brain from further injury, Fletcher can’t play any sports for the most part. His dream of becoming a fire fighter has been put on hold.

None of this, however, has injured Fletcher’s spirit.

Three years later, Jack hasn’t just survived, he has thrived. He has a new job with the Boys and Girls Club and he is volunteering for Clark County Fire and Rescue.

He is also taking college courses and is driving again.

Jack frequently talks at high school assemblies, driver education programs, at the Portland Legacy Emanuel Hospital’s court-ordered DUI program and at church groups to share his story and encourage others to make good decisions.

His message: Drive sober and don’t let your friends drive if they’ve been drinking or using marijuana.

The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is designed to encourage all drivers to make the right choice. Designate a sober, drug-free driver, take a cab, catch a ride share, Uber, Lyft or walk with a friend.

These extra patrols are part of Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030. For more information, visit