Fighting for DUI awareness four years after horrific crash

Four people died in 2010 collision

In the four years since one of St. Petersburg's deadliest and most horrific DUI crashes, Ginger Brengle has accomplished much. The cousin of Elroy McConnell, who died in the crash along with his three sons, has been on a mission to inform and prevent future drunk driving deaths.

Police believe she's making a difference.

"I've certainly seen a reduction over the years in the number of incidents that we see," said Mike Puetz, a 35-year veteran of the police department. Puetz said high-profile crashes and efforts like Brengle's help to get the word out about DUI dangers, even if the impact doesn't show up in statistics.

"There's no excuse for people not knowing the consequences of these actions," Puetz said.

Brengle leads a yearly memorial for the McConnells, who died at the intersection of Ninth Street North and 22nd Avenue in 2010. Their car was struck at 92 mph by Demetrius Jordan, who was high on marijuana, caffeine and alcohol at the time.  

The McConnells were killed instantly.

"Blink of an eye, the coroner said," Brengle recalls. "It was a blink of an eye. That's all it takes."

Jordan is serving a 44-year prison term for DUI manslaughter.

In addition to the annual display at the intersection where the deadly crash occurred, Brengle wrote letters to the makers of Four Loko urging them to stop selling the product, which in 2010 was a 12-percent alcohol malt liquor drink spiked with caffeine.  Jordan was believed to have consumed Four Loko before the crash.

The company has since stopped selling the drink with caffeine.

But that's hardly the end of the effort for Brengle. Just dealing with the loss continues to be a challenge, especially for the wife and mother of the four victims.

"She's had a very hard time living day to day without her entire family," Brengle said.

Brengle said she expects to be leading many more memorials and DUI awareness walks in the future.

"Every year until we are down to zero percent affected by DUI," she said.

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