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BISMARCK, N.D. – Marking five years since the Deutscher family of West Fargo was killed in a head-on collision with an impaired driver on I-94 near Jamestown, law enforcement statewide is honoring the family as part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign from August 18 through September 4. The enforcement campaign includes an increased emphasis on removing impaired drivers from North Dakota roads, coupled with education to the public to reinforce the importance of driving sober.
Aaron (34), Allison (Mickelson, 36) and Brielle (18 months) Deutscher, and the couple’s unborn child were traveling west on I-94 to Bismarck for a family reunion in July 2012, when their vehicle was hit head-on by a pick-up truck traveling the wrong direction on the Interstate. The driver of the pick-up truck was intoxicated, killing the Deutscher family and himself on impact.
In a joint statement, the Deutscher and Mickelson families said, “We continue to share the tragic crash that killed our children and grandchildren in the hopes of making a difference in the lives of others. These were real people whose lives were cut far too short by a terrible decision that was 100 percent preventable. The shock and pain that resulted from the crash were unimaginable, but we hope to turn that pain into change for the better.”
Alcohol is a factor in about 40-50 percent of motor vehicle fatalities in North Dakota annually. However, data from the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) shows that 2016 had the lowest number of alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities in ten years at 49, yet that was still 43 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities last year.
“Impaired driving has consequences that cannot be undone, as personified by the crash that killed the Deutscher family,” said Sheriff Barry Vannatta of the Kidder County Sheriff’s Office. “The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign is an important tool in communicating that fact to motorists. We are honored that the Deutscher’s family has continued to spread the message to drive sober. It’s a message everyone needs to follow.”
The North Dakota Highway Patrol, along with the Burleigh, Kidder, McLean and Morton County Sheriffs’ Offices, and the Bismarck, Lincoln and Mandan Police Departments will participate in the increased impaired driving enforcement August 18 through September 4.
“The NDDOT supports law enforcement efforts to deter motorists from driving impaired,” said Karin Mongeon, NDDOT Safety Division Director. “We are committed to ensuring motorists are educated about the importance of driving sober, and are honored to partner with the Deutscher and Mickelson families in doing so.”
The NDDOT administers federal grant funding as part of an overall effort to prevent deaths and injuries on North Dakota roads. Learn more about these and other traffic safety initiatives at dot.nd.gov, ndcodefortheroad.org or join the conversation on the Code for the Road Facebook or Twitter page.
The Deutscher family has memorials on the North Dakota Crash Memorial Wall. To view their memorials, visit ndcodefortheroad.org/memorial.