BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - On one night during the holiday season victims of DUI crashes are honored in Berkeley County. The ceremony has been happening for the past 22 years.
Family and friends of loved ones who are no longer here have a chance to mourn and bring awareness to the dangers of drunk driving. One woman's tragic story is keeping others from drinking and getting behind the wheel.
"As long as I'm still talking about her she's not really gone," said Kelly Heger with Mother's Against Drunk Driving.
Heger is talking about her daughter Casey.
"I was on my way home from Goose Creek and a drunk driver hit us an eighth of a mile from our house and my 3-year-old daughter Casey was killed."
Casey would have been 7 years old this year, but now Heger and her husband only have pictures and memories of their daughter. On Tuesday night, Heger told her story to a crowd also mourning loved ones lost in drunk driving accidents.
"After that I knew I had to do what I could to keep her memory alive and did what I could to prevent this from happening to other families,'' Heger said.
Candles were lit at the ceremony in honor of those who have died in a DUI accident in Berkeley County.
South Carolina Highway Patrol Cpt. Chris Williamson says his officers have to deliver bad news all too often.
"It's one of the worst feelings you'll ever imagine," Williamson said. "Coming up to a family's home in the day or night when they're expecting a loved one home from work, or an outing, and you tell that loved one is not coming home."
Williamson's message is that no matter how little you drink, every sip you take before getting behind the wheel can affect someone.
"You always have that possibility of taking someone's life on the highway, regardless if it's a child or an adult or whoever," Williamson said.
According to law enforcement, DUI's in Berkeley County have increased since 2007. In South Carolina, a person is killed in a drunk driving accident every 23 hours.
The vigil was put on by the Berkeley County prevention board and the Ernest Kennedy Center.