Many families are looking forward to an exciting weekend ahead as many high school seniors will be celebrating their graduation. Unfortunately, officials say the event creates more opportunities for dangerous and illegal activities.
In 2017, the Social Host Ordinance was adopted to mitigate this issue. Chief Michael Gerke says underaged drinking has always been illegal, but this ordinance will go one step further in cracking down on an existing law.
“It allows us to actually ticket those adults who provide a place for these underaged drinking to happen,” said Gerke.
Ector County law enforcement offices and the Permian Basin Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse will be teaming up this weekend for Operation: Social Host. They will be out starting Friday evening until Sunday morning.
“They have worked 18 years to get this graduation, to get that diploma, for life. So let’s keep that life,” said Sara Tomlinson of Permian Basin Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
For mothers Janie Villanueva and Tera Crossland, this is an initiave they can get behind.
Villanueva lost her 19 year-old son, Miguel Saenz, to a crash caused by a drunk driver. She says seeing his empty room every morning brings her right back to that night.
“It was so hard, and the only thing that I could say is why him? He had so much.”
She recalls her son being out with his friends. Later that day, she was visited by them asking if she knew of her son’s whereabouts.
“They knew that he had been involved in a car accident,” explained Villanueva. “They just didn’t know how to let us know. I mean that was the hardest thing – hardest thing. I could not believe that.”
While she is glad to have spent 19 years with her son, every year, there is a void she cannot fill.
“I mean, it’s been two years and it’s still… there,” said Villanueva.
Tera Crossland says it is a feeling she understands all too well. She lost her son, Nathaniel Silvas, to a car accident while he was driving back his girlfriend. Silvas’ girlfriend was able to fully recover from the unforgiving crash. However, Crossland’s son was not as lucky.
“It was um… It was um… a day that I’ll never forget,” stated Crossland.
She would have watched her son walk across the stage this weekend.
“Please take it from a mother that would love to be seeing her son walk the stage this weekend. Please be wise and don’t drink and drive.”