STOP-DWI: Local families who have lost loved ones raise awareness
The statewide STOP-DWI campaign raises awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. Many local families understand the need for that message all too well.
Ten people have died in Monroe County within the past three years due to people who were driving while impaired or intoxicated. The county falls in the top three in the state for highest DWI fatalities and injuries.
It’s something that has impacted plenty of local families, in Monroe and neighboring counties.
Sierra Gaddy lost her life seven months ago in a crash on Ridge Road in Holley, Orleans County. She was 24 years old.
Her cousin, Samantha Prince, says Sierra was like a sister.
“It’s definitely been an adjustment and it’s still hard. The whole family, we all still have our bad days,” Prince said.
Sierra moved in with her family in 2020 after Sierra’s parents died. Three years later, Sierra would be hit and killed by a drunk driver.
“Knowing that this gentleman had prior DWIs and he was, you know, still has a license — that kind of just puts salt in the wound,” Prince said.
John Furfaro understands the pain Samantha is going through. He lost his son, Nicholas Furfaro, in 2014 at the hands of Nicholas’ girlfriend, who was driving while intoxicated.
“That was her second DWI, she was still going to court for her first one,” Furfaro said.
Nicholas was a passenger in the car driven by his girlfriend on New Michigan Road in Farmington when it crashed. He was ejected, and killed.
“It never gets better. You hear that it gets better, well, I tell ya it doesn’t get better. Nick has seven other sister and brothers, and everyone of them feels the same way,” Furfaro said.
Monroe County Stop DWI Coordinator Lindsay Tomidy can also relate. Her brother, Ryan Merritt, was a senior at Hilton High School in 2001 when he got behind the wheel while impaired. He died after crashing near the parkway in Hilton. She has made it her mission to help others avoid the pain her family has experienced.
“He made the wrong choice and he drove impaired when he was a teenager,” Tomidy said.
“At the end of the day I hope that people can realize, A, how often it happens and B, how important it is to just hold each other accountable and try to help each other make that right choice,” she said.
These families want people to think twice before getting behind the wheel impaired or intoxicated. You are risking your life and the lives of others.
The STOP-DWI campaign ends Tuesday, but bringing awareness to safety on our roads is ongoing.