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Marker memorializes 2003 DUI victim

New law allows for more roadside signs
October 22, 2008 2:59:15 PM PDT
In 2003, Caitlin Weese was killed by a drunk driver. On Wednesday she was memorialized with a roadside marker near the crash site.Weese's family and friends gathered as the memorial was dedicated just off Randall Road near Gilberts, Ill., where the 17-year-old, who was set to graduate from high school in just one week, was killed by a drunk driver.

"You don't ever get over the loss of your child. Caitlin was not my flesh and blood. She was my step-daughter, but she was such a special kid," said Joel Mains, stepfather.

Since Weese's death, Mains has been lobbying for ways to pay tribute to drunk driving victims. The first such memorial in the state was installed near the site on Route 72 where Weese was killed.

"It's a comfort to know that Caitlin's memory and her legacy can live on through these," said Mains.

The signs are made possible by the Roadside Memorial marker Program, also called Tina's Law. The law was named after Tina Ball, a construction worker and mother of 7 who was struck and killed on I-57 by a drunk driver in September 2003.

Tina's Law allows families to request a permanent memorial at state highway crash sites. The markers are supported by the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, who say the signs not only honor the victims, but remind drivers not to drink and get behind the wheel.

"We are very optimistic that they will be a prevention tool for the state of Illinois. That, as they become known, they will see the message until it almost becomes subliminal," said Marti Belluschi, AAIM.

Part of the old memorial to Weese is still at the crash site.

"It's rough. She was my best friend and it's a bond that I can't have with anyone else," said Cassandra Hardy, Weese's sister.

Mrkers can be requested for any fatal DUI crash that happened after January 1, 1990. It's an application process that goes through IDOT and costs $150 dollars. So far, there are 25 applications for markers.


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