Woman’s life changed forever when drunken driver killed her brother

SEATTLE — DUI arrests are up by 22% in King County from last year. The Washington State Patrol says last year was a bad year for fatalities and they are working to get that number down.

Starting today, Dec. 15,  through the end of the month, WSP will be increasing patrols on Washington state roads to catch anyone who may be impaired behind the wheel.

Laminated 8x10 photographs hanging on a poster board are the alt images Yolanda Trout-Manuel has of her brother -- photographs no one wants as a memory showing her brother’s mangled white pickup truck after it was hit head-on by a 21-year-old drunken driver on Highway 12 near Walla Walla.

“We spent three wonderful days of all of us laughing, talking about growing up, getting in trouble,” said Trout-Manuel.

In July 1993, her large family of 18 siblings were celebrating her parents' 50th wedding anniversary. It was the last time she saw her brother alive.

“My brother had just said goodbye to his wife and his youngest daughters who were 8 and 10 at the time,” said Trout-Manuel.

Her brother Johnny was driving on the curvy Highway 12 when a drunken driver of a green Honda Accord, a young man who had just turned 21 and had been partying that day, made the choice to get behind the wheel while under the influence.

“He was going between 80 and 90 miles an hour,” said Trout-Manuel.

As the road curved, the driver hit a gravel patch, lost control and crashed into Johnny’s pickup.

The impact killed Johnny, split the drunken driver’s car in half and killed the passenger in his car, too.

The drunken driver survived with no injuries and because he was given IV fluids on the way to the hospital Yolanda says his blood alcohol level wasn’t over the limit when officers drew blood.

She says the driver never spent a night in jail and was never charged with DUI.

“I was waiting for Johnny to come over to my house, to come have dinner. Instead, I got a phone call from my other brother Willie who said Johnny had died,” said Trout-Manuel.

She says that July evening changed her family’s life forever, but instead of being angry she channeled her loss into action, lobbying for funding for a wider Highway 12 and the sign “Please Don’t Drink And Drive” that’s seen on the side of highways all across Washington state.

If the driver had thought of those five words before he got in his car, she said, her brother would be with her today.