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Advocates work to prevent drunk driving in Utah

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Posted at 9:39 PM, May 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-16 23:40:03-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Work is never really easy for Melissa Larkin, a funeral director at Larkin Mortuary who is used to the difficult goodbyes.

“My brother was hit by a drunk driver January 15, 2000, and the two boys who were with him, Casey and Christopher, were killed,” Larkin said.

Now, as the chair of Moms Against Drunk Driving in Salt Lake, she’s helping make arrangements for yet another victim.

"It's heartbreaking,” Larkin said. “It's heartbreaking because it's a flashback of everything that my family has gone through."

On Thursday, 43-year-old Susan Madsen was killed in a 7-car crash in Draper, which police said was all caused by a driver who was under the influence.

Friday night, a vigil was held in honor of a Salt Lake City woman killed in a crash just two days after Madsen died.

According to police, Norma “Alishia” Black, 31, was killed when the car she was riding in crashed into another vehicle in South Salt Lake. Authorities believe the driver Black was with was under the influence.

“It's one more family that it shouldn't be happening to,” Larkin said. “This is 100 percent preventable. This crime doesn't have to happen.”

In 2013, the Utah Highway Patrol arrested 1,407 people for driving under the influence. Data for 2014 shows, thus far, they’ve arrested 1,151.

“It's really easy to just make that decision of not to drive. If you've been drinking, whether you're over 21 or under 21, the penalties for drinking and driving are huge,” said Adan Carrillo of the Utah Department of Transportation.

The agency’s Zero Fatalities program shows a 60 percent decrease in DUI fatalities, but Carrillo believes there is still work to be done.

“You know you’re drinking,” he said. “So, just make that decision early on, and choose not to do that because the consequences are catastrophic.”