Dustin Ledford, 24, the son of Danny and Kim Ledford, was killed in a two-vehicle crash on APD 40 shortly after 911 Dispatchers issued a “Be On the Lookout” for a vehicle traveling north in the southbound lane.
Kim did not return to her job with the city of Cleveland, where she was employed at the time of her son’s death. Instead, she has made it her mission to change state law to make it tougher on drivers under the influence.
“We’d just like to see some drunk driving laws changed,” she told State Rep. Eric Watson Saturday at a community meeting at Oak Grove Elementary School. “This girl is in jail today. Her arraignment is Monday. I’m asking you to pray for us. It’s going to be a hard day.”
According to reports, Tiffany Levi Isaza, 29, was driving a 2002 Ford Taurus in the wrong direction along APD 40 and struck Ledford’s car, a 1990 Toyota Camry. Bradley County Emergency Medical Service paramedics transported Ledford to SkyRidge Medical Center, where he died approximately an hour later.
“Dustin was 24. He wasn’t a perfect child, but he was a good kid,” she said. “He played baseball for Bradley. He was a left-handed pitcher. Dustin had a lot of potential.”
Kim Ledford said Dustin had gone to Walmart and was on his way home with bacon and eggs.
“This girl chose to get in the car. She and her boyfriend had been in an altercation. They took him to jail and left her there knowing she was intoxicated. She got in the car and left two 21-month-old babies at home by themselves, drove down APD 40 for approximately five miles with a blood alcohol level of .24 — three times the legal limit,” Ledford said.
While she appreciates the law requiring breathalyzer interlocks in cars, she and her husband are going to approach state legislators in February to ask that fatalities be classified as especially aggravated vehicular homicide if a driver’s blood alcohol is above .20
“She chose to get in that car drunk. Our child would still be here today if it wasn’t for a choice she made,” the mother said. “I think they had nine 911 phone calls where she had passed people going the wrong way and Dustin just happened to be the one she hit. It could have happened to anyone of you. It could have happened to anyone of your children.
“When legislators say to me they need the tax money from alcohol — that could have been their children. We’ve lost Dustin for the rest of our lives. We don’t have him. She’s got to live with this and so do we.”
Ledford said anyone who chooses to drink and drive should face consequences.
“If nothing else, we are hoping this can be a deterrent to keep people from drinking. I’m tired of people who get arrested and (keep) getting a slap on the wrist — these people who get arrested 11 times — I’m tired of that. That’s not right.”
She has learned through this experience that the average person drives 80 times before they are arrested for DUI and four of seven drivers on the road at any time are intoxicated. She said Isaza made a mistake, but it was a big mistake.
“I just ask that you to stand behind Eric and any drunk driving bills we can get passed,” Ledford said. “Remember my Dustin.”