MADD victim services help survivor find happiness again

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Shelly Birkelo
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

BELOIT—Nothing can prepare a parent for the death of a child.

Phyllis Reed learned that when her 21-year-old son, Dave Ferone, died May 30, 2002, in a crash that involved an impaired driver.

"You're in the middle of a tornado that's whipping you around, and you feel like your whole life has been swallowed up, she said.

She suffered from clinical depression, her marriage ended, she shrunk from clothing size 12 to a 4 in six months and lost her faith in God.

Reed tried counseling, starting her own support group and sleeping pills.

Nothing helped.

"The depression became consuming like a fire. I was lost," she said.

After a "nagging" friend convinced Reed to join a health club, she began eating again, and the slow road to recovery began.

Her healing took a big turn in the right direction 18 months ago when the 59-year-old Beloit woman connected with Becky Drews-Debuque, Mothers Against Drunk Driving victim services specialist for Wisconsin.

"It's been a relief," Reed said.

"Becky is good at what she does," she said.

This includes providing information about the criminal and civil justice systems, accompanying victim/survivors to court, assisting in writing a victim impact statement, referring victims/survivors to appropriate resources for additional help, offering support groups and providing written support materials.

Reed attends a monthly MADD support group and is a volunteer speaker for the organization that "gives victims/survivors a voice" when they have been affected by this crime of impaired driving crashes, Drews-Debuque said.

"The MADD support group helps tremendously. We all get to talk and share," Reed said.

Many are carrying anger, she said.

"Death is so sudden, you have no time to say goodbye,” Reed said. “Having that support group is an integral part of your recovery and imperative to healing.”

Reed still is amazed she can laugh today.

"It is a relief to be happy," she said.

MADD helped Reed find happiness, again.

"The services are free," Drews-Debuque said, "and based on what the victims/survivors want from behind-the-scenes support to sorting through financial situations."

People can reach out right away for help or years later to MADD like Reed did, she said.



JANESVILLE--Janesville Police Officer Todd Radloff has a passion for stopping people from driving impaired

It's part of Radloff's job to arrest drunken drivers, but he also lost two friends--one when he was in eighth grade and another when he was a senior in high school--to drunken drivers.

"As I get older, I wondered what their lives could have been when they got older. It was such a waste at such an early age," he said.

Radloff hasn't wasted time wondering how he could make a difference in making city streets safer.

He has made about 200 drunken driving arrests--more than anybody else in the department--over the last three years.

That's why Mothers Against Drunk Driving, in cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, chose him to attend a No Refusal Workshop in Denver in July.

Radloff was honored to attend the workshop that drew more than 100 officers and prosecutors from 15 states.

He found networking and sharing information useful.

"Different states are putting different systems into place to be able to expedite the process of getting search warrants if a person does not consent to giving a sample of their blood, breath or urine," Radloff said.

One is ewarrants, a software program that lets officers use their squad car computers to electronically fill out search warrant forms and email them to judges, who can return them within 10 minutes, Radloff said.

The process Janesville police use can take more than an hour, he said.

Radloff also learned several jurisdictions are now training officers to draw blood and are referred to as phlebotocops.

"I don't know if that will ever happen here, but that was interesting," he said.                                                                                                                               

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