Mom of drunk-driving victim: ‘They messed with the wrong mother’
WATERLOO, Wis. — Marla Hall holds photos of her son’s childhood and smiles.
“He always had this grin on his face,” she says, holding a photo of him at 3 years old, dressed like “The Fonz.”
But when she remembers that Clenton Hall, her 26-year-old son, is gone, it devastates her.
“It’s just a terrible feeling,” Marla said. “I still sometimes ask God not to wake me up.”
Clenton Hall was heading down I-94 in November with his girlfriend and co-worker Katey Pasqualini, and accounting colleagues Kim Radtke and Brian Falk, when the state patrol says a driver going the wrong way on the interstate came at them head-on. Hall, Pasqualini and Radtke were killed, along with Patrick Wasielewski, who was driving aother car.
“I can’t even look at his death certificate,” Marla Hall said of her son’s death. “I only know that his place of death is on Interstate 94 at mile marker 250.”
The wrong-way driver, 33-year-old Brysen Wills, has since been charged with 15 felony counts, including homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. His driving record shows he had two prior drunk-driving offenses in other states.
“These people still drive and they need to go to prison,” Hall said. “I don’t care if they have to build a prison just for drunk drivers.”
Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, is instead proposing a “four strikes and you’re out” bill, which would revoke driver licenses for 10 years after a fourth offense. It would also revoke the license after a second offense that included two other crimes like property damage, injury or death.
“We need to make sure the individuals that are out there consider, ‘Do I want to go to prison? Am I going to get help? Or am I not going to drive?'” Wanggaard said. “It’s not about punishing people, but sometimes you have to put that out there because people just don’t get it.”
Hall is supportive of this bill and others at the Capitol that aim to create steeper offenses for drunk drivers. She’s started her own website, eliminatedrunkdriving.com, and Facebook pages to advocate on Clenton’s behalf, which she says helps with her grief.
“They messed with the wrong mother,” she says of her advocacy efforts.
She says she wants to take action to keep others from living with only memories.
“We just have to do something,” Hall said. “You think that it wouldn’t happen to you. I was worried about car accidents but I didn’t think he’d be killed by a drunk driver.”
Last session, the Wanggaard bill required five offenses, and it did not pass the legislature. It’s expected this bill and a number of other drunk-driving measures will get a hearing in April in the Senate, and some are being heard in an Assembly committee next week.