Emotional Thank Yous from Victims After OWI Arrests - WBAY

Emotional Thank Yous from Victims After OWI Arrests

Green Bay - June 3, 2014 marks six years since two high school graduates were killed in a high speed car crash on Oneida Street in Ashwaubenon.

The driver who hit them is serving a lifetime prison sentence.

The deaths of Talhia Heroux and Ashley Knetzger prompted a swift and abrupt response from law enforcement to arrest drunk drivers.

That continues to this day.

When 18 year old Ashley Knetzger was killed in that 2008 crash, it became personal for law enforcement.

Her father, Mike, is a Green Bay Police officer.

"Ashley's death nearly ended my career. I had serious considerations of no longer being a police officer, and I was sitting down with a counselor and had this big question wrapped around my head, can I continue to do it?" says Officer Mike Knetzger.

Instead of quitting, he and the department turned his tragedy into motivation to prevent other families from feeling the same pain.

Since 2008, Green Bay Police say they've arrested more than 5,000 drunk drivers with an average blood alcohol content at .18, more than twice the legal limit.

State statistics are only available through 2012, but from 2008 to 2012 they show law enforcement agencies in Brown County made 8,163 OWI arrests.

The Department of Transportation shows 6,665 OWI arrests in Winnebago County and 5,887 arrests in Outagamie County.

But it's about more than numbers.

"They're going out there and doing the right thing and taking dangerous people off the roads," says Knetzger.

Each year, the Knetzgers hand out an award in Ashley's name to recognize OWI enforcement efforts.

This year, that included personal stories from other victims.

The department provided us video of the private ceremony.

"After my accident, I got a clear picture of the after effects on the drunk driver," Officer Tracy Liska told her fellow officers. She was hit and severely injured by a drunk driver while on patrol in August of 2013.

"You don't even know the impact that you have," says Amanda Boeder, who was rescued by police during a hostage situation in Brown County nearly a decade ago.

"So thank you so much from these two parents hearts for doing what you do," says Terri Goudy, with her husband Tom. Their son, Samuel and two friends died after a drunk driver, going the wrong way on Highway 41 in Brown County, hit their car in June of 2009.

  The messages from these victims provide the inspiration Knetzger believes will make streets safer from drunk drivers.

"I will never settle for... if it only saves one life. To me that's not enough," adds Knetzger.

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