Death of family by drunk driving falls on deaf ears

Reported by Lisa Rantala | bio

Posted by Kate Oatis

TOLEDO -- Some drivers are still driving drunk, even after Michael Gagnon received a 43-year sentence last Friday for killing nearly an entire family while driving drunk. In fact, last week, officers arrested twice the number of drunk drivers than during the same week last year, reports News 11's Lisa Rantala.

Just 14 hours after Gagnon apologized for having killed Danny Griffin's wife and four of their children last December, 48-year-old Steven Hardy was picked up by Lucas County sheriff's deputies in the 7400 block of Dorr St.

Deputies say Hardy was drunk and passed out while the van was still gear. They also say he refused to take a breath and field sobriety test, though records show he's been convicted 11 times since 1989 for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

According to the weekend report, Hardy told the arresting officer, "Are you stupid? I'm under two lifetime suspensions. Why would I care about this suspension?"

Carol Plenzler, with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) says Hardy's reaction to being arrested is typical of people who drink and drive.

"They think about their own problems, their own pains, and that's as far as they go," Plenzler said. Arrests like Hardy's make her wonder if anyone learns from these tragedies.

"If I can get one person not to drink and drive, it's a ripple effect," she said.

Plenzler lost her own sister 11 years ago to a drunk driver. "That helps me to heal, by trying to help others. Even though I feel like I'm treading water and not getting through, I still have to do this," Plenzler said.

The truth is, drunk driving can have tragic -- and permanent -- consequences.

"I'm sure, just like the rest of us, he'd love to have a do-over. Unfortunately in life, that's not possible," Griffin said about the man who killed his family.

Gagnon knows he has no option but to accept the hand he's dealt himself.

"Never will I be able to undo the damage that I have done and I am deeply sorry," Gagnon said after his sentencing.