In Washington State, A Memorial to DUI Victims

Snohomish County DUI Victims Memorial Wall
Photo: Washington Traffic Safety Commission

It was a sad day for the town of Everett, Washington: a week ago 13 new names were unveiled on a wall that stands on a lawn in McCullum Park, just south of the town. The names were of people who had died at the hands of impaired drivers.

The Snohomish County DUI Victims Memorial Wall, created and maintained by the Snohomish County DUI Target Zero Task Force, serves as a reminder to all that the consequences of drunk and drugged driving are severe and lasting. Some 125 victims have now been given a remembrance on the wall. The memorial tiles bear both the birth and death dates of the victims, revealing that many died shockingly young; there are teenagers, children and even a baby among the victims.

It does not cost anything to place a name on the wall: the Snohomish County Everett District Court funds the program. However, to be included the name must be of a person who is a present or past resident of the county and who was the victim of an alcohol- or drug-related traffic that was not his or her own fault. The named victim cannot be the impaired driver.

Most of what we know about drunk driving victims comes from two sources: news and the stories of the victims’ friends and families. The news arrives and then disappears. Personal stories tend to be heard only by those close to the victims. The wall, though, gets seen by passersby every day. The names of those whose lives were cut tragically short are there for all to see, and their growing numbers as well. The wall serves to remind us all of the horrific waste of life that impaired driving leads to.

The aim of the DUI Target Zero Task Force, as its name implies, is to reduce the number of drunk driving deaths to zero. The goal date is 2030. The wall is part of the effort to rally the community around the goal.

Every county, every city, would do well to have a memorial for its DUI victims. Until they do, we offer our condolences to the victims, and our encouragement to the citizens who are making this generous effort on behalf of road safety in one county in one state in the country.