NORWALK, Ohio — Ten months after a drunk driver collided with another car and killed a 15-year-old Huron County teenager, her family is working to make sure it never happens to anyone else again.
In May 2021, troopers said a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.204%, more than double the legal limit, veered off the road and hit another car at 3:45 p.m. along Mason Road in Milan Township. The drunk driver died in the crash, along with 15-year-old Alli Jo Kurdinat, who was a passenger in the other car.
Kurdinat’s stepmother, Veronica Stanley, was driving Kurdinat to her job when the collision occurred. Stanley told News 5 she spent a month in a coma after the crash and six months in the hospital and still deals with issues related to the crash.
“I’m going to continue to fight cause that’s what Alli would want me to do,” she said. “Don’t be a little bit intoxicated. Don't be inebriated, don’t be high, don’t be any of the things that are affecting your ability to drive because you’re not the only one out on the road. There are families out there.”
Kurdinat’s mother, father and step-mother told News 5 they’re beginning a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of driving sober, by offering signs for people to display in the community.
The signs will be distributed from 4-7 p.m. on March 28 at Bishman Park in Norwalk, and are free to anyone. Individuals are encouraged to make a donation to the Alli Jo Kurdinat memorial scholarship fund, which will work with students from Norwalk High school and EHOVE Career Center.
“Once we started getting messages from people and wanting the signs and wanting to help, we thought we probably should get some more signs,” mother Heather Armstrong said.
“We ordered 250 and we’ve ordered 300 more,” father Jack Kurdinat said.
The family told News 5 they’re also working to have a handful of billboards strategically placed throughout the area beginning in the coming weeks, in places such as near Alli Jo’s school, near Cedar Point, and other popular locations.
For Sgt Ryan Purpura with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, this crash shines a bright light on just how much damage can be done by a drunk driver.
According to data from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, deadly DUIs have been on the rise for a few years now, with 636 reported in 2021.
“It's not worth the risk of hurting yourself or really hurting or killing anybody else,” he said. "It's probably one of the most dangerous things we see on a roadway when someone gets behind a wheel impaired.”