With the erection of two roadside memorial signs and a special DUI enforcement this weekend in Bonney Lake, family members urge the public to remember the life of Gary Slick, who was killed in one of Pierce County’s most devastating impaired-driving crashes.
Slick, a father of three, was walking a few blocks from his home in Bonney Lake to pick up his truck from a tire store on a sunny afternoon in 2012 when he was struck from behind. The driver, James Southard Jr., had previously served 10 years in prison for killing another man in a DUI crash who, like Slick, left behind a widow and children.
This Friday, Jan. 24, the public is invited by the Tacoma Pierce County Victim’s Panel to join the family, first responders and the Bonney Lake Police Department in remembering Slick during a brief, dual-memorial sign unveiling. The event will be held at 3 p.m. on 214th Street near the intersection of State Route 410 in Bonney Lake.
The next night, Jan. 25, several dozen officers from law enforcement agencies across the county participate in the Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force’s special DUI emphasis patrol dedicated to Slick. Motorists stopped by officers will receive a remembrance flyer about Slick highlighting information about both the human and other costs of a DUI.
At least six officers trained as drug recognition experts will participate in the weekend enforcement. Slick’s tragedy shows why. Officers found methamphetamine and more than 170 prescription drug pills in Southard’s truck after he was caught fleeing the scene.
In conjunction with the chiefs of the Bonney Lake and Sumner Police Departments and Washington State Liquor Control Board officers, the Task Force will also conduct its Home Safe Bar program on Jan. 25 to remind bar personnel of their responsibility to reduce the number of drivers that leave their establishments impaired. Bars turning out drivers who are subsequently arrested for DUI on Saturday night will be visited by the bar team, now in its third year of operation.
Repeat offenders like Southard are more likely to be treated for alcohol abuse and held more accountable under tougher state laws enacted in 2013, and traffic safety advocates continue to lobby for even stricter laws for repeat offenders. But these efforts bring little solace to the Slick family. “Gary was the person you always wanted on your team,” said Slick’s sister Kathi DePiro, “and he’s not here anymore.”
Media are invited to cover the Victim Panel-sponsored sign unveiling on Friday, interview family members and/or ride along with law enforcement or the Bar Team on Saturday night.
Gloria Mansfield Averill, Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force, Pierce County Community Connections (253) 222-9088