Camille Spink drank enough on Feb. 26, 2010, to push her blood-alcohol level to 0.21.
Then she and a friend decided to drive to a bar and drink some more. On the way, going the wrong way down Broadway in Everett, she killed Sheena Blair and Tony Ramirez.
Spink is in prison now, serving a seven-year sentence.
Frank and Carol Blair are making their way through hell.
Sheena, 24, was their daughter, a student at Pierce College aiming at a career in juvenile justice.
Over the past 18 months, the Blairs have learned more about what they knew the moment a deputy knocked on their Midland door at 4:30 a.m. Feb. 27: There’s no justice in the loss of a child. There is no sense to a death that’s so preventable.
Activists by habit, the Blairs are surviving by fighting – first for justice, now for prevention.
Grief has taught them that pain does not lessen, but it changes. Undone at first by the sharpness of it, they howled.
Every bit as consuming as it was at first, the pain dulled. It became a boulder in their souls.
And this is where the Blairs exemplify the spirit of Pierce County. They have used that great rock of grief as a whetstone.
They have shared their story on victims’ panels, in trainings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and with every reporter who will listen.
They organized the Sheena Blair DUI Summit, and plan to do it again.
They used all their government contacts to pass House Bill 2216, which triples possible sentences for drunken drivers who kill people.
They joined police on DUI patrols and went with officers to see how well bartenders keep drunken patrons from driving.
They have forced themselves to understand why people think it’s fine to drive drunk, and how they get away with it.
Now they are back with another idea. Last week, they gathered a team of health and traffic-safety experts to meet with Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor and spokesman Ed Troyer. Hear out the plan, they asked, then point out the holes in it.
The Blairs propose forming Sheena’s Angels, a foundation that would arrange cab rides home for drunken bar or restaurant patrons. They envision the hospitality and insurance industries backing it, and bartenders encouraging it. They see an education campaign changing attitudes about having a few drinks and driving home.
“To convince someone to take a taxi home, you have to eliminate all excuses,” Blair said. “You have to have PR to make it hip to take a cab.”
Pastor liked that.
“Drunk driving is still a cultural push,” he said. “We’re not there yet.”
He liked the idea of a campaign that works in Pierce County and radiates outward.
Troyer liked that Blair asked in advance what could possibly go wrong.
“The problems will be internal, with the drivers and bartenders,” he said. “People are greedy. People will get paid for drives they didn’t take.”
That’s something to work on, Frank Blair agreed. “If we attach Sheena’s name to something, it has to be good. It has to be something that isn’t going to end up being smeared.”
There’s another problem with cabs, Troyer said. “Right now, it’s really hard to get a cab in Pierce County,” he said. “A lot of people are frustrated when they call cabs and it’s a two- to three-hour wait.”
Troyer has a map of DUI fatalities throughout Pierce County. He has data on who was drinking in bars, who was at a kegger, and who got plastered with friends and killed on the way home.
He wants all of that factored into any program.
So do the Blairs. So does Pastor.
“We have to understand the dimension of the problem, and what would be the most effective way to deal with it,” Pastor said.
He asked the Blair team to collect data from the state, research transportation options and ideas from other areas, establish nonprofit status and think about funding. He asked for a few meetings over a few months to get a good idea right the first time.
In this, for Sheena, he said, Pierce County is too good to email@example.com