‘There’s a reason I’m here’: Woman hit by man drunken driving twice in one night calls for change
MADISON, Wis. — A woman is using her tragedy to shed light on what she calls “lax” drunk driving laws.
Jennifer Kilburn was hit by a drunken driver who had already been arrested earlier in the night. According to state law, drunken drivers charged for the first and second times are not required to stay in jail and can be released to a sober party.
A Kenosha woman was hit by a drunk driver who had already been cited for an OWI earlier in the night. She said the system failed to protect her and is calling for stricter drunk driving laws. Details tonight at 10 pic.twitter.com/cJbsMuHjYz
— Keely Arthur (@news3keely) December 18, 2018
That’s exactly what happened on the early morning of Aug. 9. Jesse Liddell, 25, was arrested for drunken driving in the village of Pleasant Prairie. He was detained at the Pleasant Prairie Jail but picked up by his mother. He was taken home but snuck out and got behind the wheel and blew through an intersection, T-boning Kilburn’s car.
“My thigh bone went through my pelvis and pushed all my organs into my chest cavity which made my lung collapse,” Kilburn said.
The Kenosha nurse was taken to the hospital where she worked and med flighted to another facility. She woke up in the hospital two hours later and said she was stunned to hear the man who hit her had already been caught by police.
“Everybody was in shock,” she said. “I was mad at him but even more mad that the system could let something like this happen.”
This isn’t the only case of individuals caught drunken driving twice in one night. Over the last two years, there are cases documented in Ashwaubenon, Eau Claire, Milwaukee and Dane County.
Shannon McCann, 35, of Sun Prairie was arrested by Dane County deputies for two OWIs in less than two hours in September. She is awaiting trail for February.
Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said this can happen because in the case of first and second offense, drunken driving offenders can be released from jail to a responsible party. Only people who are at their third offense and beyond are required to stay in jail. Mahoney said he is fine with the laws as they are but believes the people who pick the drunken drivers up from jail need to extra vigilant.
“There have been incidents where individuals (who) were released to a responsible party got back behind the wheel and killed somebody in a crash,” he said.
Kilburn her situation is a prime example as to why the lass need to change.
“I think that if they had laws where they would have to stay in jail for, let’s say, 12 hours, then this wouldn’t have happened to me because he wouldn’t have been let out.”
She is now working with lawmakers and will continue to share her story in an effort to save lives.
“There’s a reason I’m still here, I still have a purpose. Besides being a nurse and taking care of people. I think my other reason for being here is to try to make these laws stricter, tougher, so that less people get hurt and killed.”
Liddell will be back in court on Thursday. He is charged with injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle, which is a felony.
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