Crime and Courts
5:00 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Kansas Mother Shares Story In Hopes To Curb Impaired Driving

Wanda Stewart speaks out against drunk driving at a news conference in Wichita. Her three-month-old son Scott was killed by a drunk driver in 1981.
Wanda Stewart speaks out against drunk driving at a news conference in Wichita. Her three-month-old son Scott was killed by a drunk driver in 1981.
Credit Abigail Wilson

Kansas law enforcement will be working overtime during the Labor Day holiday in order to enforce the state’s impaired driving laws. One Kansas mother is helping the effort by sharing her story.  KMUW’s Abigail Wilson has more…

It was February 1981. Wanda Stewart had pulled off the road in order to nurse her infant son, Scott. Her Mazda hatchback was at least 20 yards off the side of Highway 96 in western Kansas. She was driving home to  see her mother, father and husband Stan.

“I remember sitting there idling in neutral with the emergency brake on and the air conditioner going," Stewart says. "And I do remember thinking that Stan would have a fit with me about idling with the air conditioner running -  except for the fact that I had that precious little boy in the car with me.”

In an instant and without warning, another driver hit her car from behind.

Wanda Stewart holds her son's favorite toys. Toys that no longer get the love and attention of a child because of the decision of one person to drink and drive.
Wanda Stewart holds her son's favorite toys. Toys that no longer get the love and attention of a child because of the decision of one person to drink and drive.
Credit Abigail Wilson

“Scott was ejected from the car. For medical and psychological reasons, I have no memory of Scott flying from my arms," she says tearfully. "I was not allowed to hold Scott for the last time. I attended his funeral on a hospital gurney.”

The driver who hit Stewart's car was an 18-year-old woman who had a blood alcohol content of .24 — triple the legal limit today. She received a $100 fine and license restrictions that limited her driving privileges.

Captain Doug Nolte of the Wichita Police Department speaks on behalf of law enforcement officers statewide who will be participating in the Kansas Department of Transportation's annual Labor Day campaign. The campaign is called: "You drink. You drive. You lose."

“This is certainly a message that we're heightening today.' Captain Nolte says. 'But the fact is, this is a message we should be thinking about 365."

As of July 31 of this year, the Wichita Police Department has arrested 1266 people for DUI.

Federal traffic safety funds totaling $150,000 will be used for the DUI prevention campaign which will run from August 15 to September 1.

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