KEEP THE ECHOES ALIVE
By Master Trooper Trent Kiefer
Indiana State Police

As a majority of us deal with the shockwaves of the new challenges that were hurdled at us in 2020, we all still need to continue to battle the challenges that have been with us for decades. Very few, reading this article, have not been affected by an incident involving an impaired driver in some way. As law enforcement professionals we deal with impaired drivers while taking them to jail. We also deal with their aftermath when they have caused a crash. We do this by rendering aid to patients and/ or notifying family of those that have died.

Within my 24 years of service with the Indiana State Police and of all the crashes that I have responded to involving impaired drivers, one crash is at the forefront in my memories. Some may have heard Steve Mason speak of the loss of his son Chris Mason at a MADD event (See the Mission Moment section of this newsletter). I was the investigating and arresting officer of the crash that took Chris’ life. The memory of this event, and the loss that it caused, is never ending and can enter my thoughts at any time. I have referred to these type of memories as “echoes”. These “echoes” are memories that continue days, months, and years after a tragic event. These “echoes” can be spontaneous thoughts or can be triggered by seeing similar events. I find it important to use these tragedies and their “echoes” to tell the stories and their effects on people. I use this tragedy while discussing drinking and driving with driver’s education classes or civic groups.

There are those who are continuing to deal with the horrific consequences on a personal level. Learning to live with loved ones that have been injured by impaired drivers or learning to live a life when your loved one is no longer here; is a burden some people share. Unfortunately, I am one of those who are dealing with this issue both professionally and personally. I know that I am not the only one. On November 30, 2013, my mother, grandmother, and aunt were in a crash that was caused by an impaired driver. My grandmother died of her injuries days later. However, the memories of these events are memories that need to be passed on and shared.

Having the memories flow through the years as echoes, not only keep the memories of lost ones alive, but also may save a life. That should be our ultimate goal. Finally, keep up the fight and never give up. Pass your experiences on by telling your stories over and over again… and keep the echoes alive.