Micheal Anthony Reinhardt (Mike, for short) was a good kid, an honor student and was always happy. He loved to play video games and spend time with his family and friends. Mike was looking forward to graduating high school in 2000 and wanted to attend USF in Tampa, because he didn’t want to go too far from home.
Thursday, December 24, 1998 — Christmas Eve — Mike, age 16, was riding in a car with friends on their way to play pool. One minute they were talking about going roller blading, and the next they were rear-ended by a drunk driver who had just been kicked out of a bar. The driver, with a BAC of .18, was traveling at 70 MPH and the impact killed Mike instantly; no one else was injured.
Mike’s mother, Darlene Carothers, believed Mike was out of the country with his father at the time of the crash, so when police officers came to her door the next day, she thought it was a mistake. But it wasn’t a mistake. Mike was back in town and had been staying with friends.
After the crash, Darlene was put in contact with MADD. She says, “MADD was there for me every step of the way, through court hearings and with lots of hugs every time I cried.” After two years of court, the drunk driver was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Darlene says, “It won’t bring my son back, but it will keep another drunk driver off the streets.”
Darlene received the news on Christmas day that her son had been killed — a day she will never forget. Since Mike’s death, she hasn’t been able to put up a tree or celebrate Christmas.
Please remember Mike, and all of the victims of drunk driving, as you celebrate this holiday season, and help us spread the word that drinking and driving don’t mix by participating in Tie One On For Safety®.