The Pierce County Traffic Safety and DUI Task Force presented its annual awards on Dec. 16 at the Steilacoom Town Hall. The seasonally-decorated hall hosted a holiday buffet dinner followed by the “Night of 1,000 Stars” DUI traffic safety awards ceremony. The event was attended by over 100 people, including six KP News staff, state Rep. Derek Kilmer, and representatives from the Washington State Patrol, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and local police jurisdictions, as well as volunteers from the Pierce County DUI Victims’ Panel, students, and family members of DUI victims.
Awards were given in eight categories ranging from Good Samaritan to law enforcement.
In the category of media awareness, KP News executive editor Rodika Tollefson received an engraved plaque for her work in writing about the dangerous strip of State Route 302 and the many accidents that plague travelers there, along with funding issues for fixing the highway. In announcing the award, Gig Harbor Police Chief Mike Davis made note of Tollefson’s poignant writing about a mother’s loss to a drunk driver, as she covered the dedication of the David Doolittle memorial sign near Ravensara. In his remarks, he acknowledged Tollefson’s effective coverage of safety issues, the first traffic light on the KP, bridge tolls, and ramp meters. David’s mother, Nadine Doolittle, was also among the many task force volunteers who were acknowledged for their work to help prevent drunk driving.
KOMO 4 television news reporter Keith Eldridge was the other recipient in the media awareness category. Trooper Dave Bertholf, whose patrol area includes SR-302, was among the recipients in the law enforcement category. WSP Chief John Batiste was the keynote speaker, which was followed by a solemn candlelight vigil. During the vigil, names were read of those lost to drunk drivers in Pierce County since 1958, with the sounding of a bell after each name was read.
The Tacoma Pierce County DUI Task Force was created in 1983 by former Gov. Booth Gardner, who was then the Pierce County executive, and by then Tacoma Mayor Doug Sutherland, currently the commissioner of public lands for the state Department of Natural Resources.