It’s the latest sign of the times – and they are popping up across the state. The one located along FM 2154 -- is the first in Brazos County.
"It’s great because it's bigger than I thought it would be," said Wanda McGill.
To some driving by, it may appear to be just a sign standing tall along the side of the road-- but each one has a story.
"I don't look forward to putting the tree up each year because I know I have to put his ornament up,” said McGill.
Christmas time is especially hard for Wanda McGill.
“It will never be the same for us,” McGill said.
In 2002, her son Matthew was killed by a drunk driver.
“Always in my mind is this man who did this to my son and he is out living his life,” McGill said.
Police believe the driver of that vehicle, Gregorio Lozano, was drunk. He was taken to a local hospital, but escaped before his treatment was complete and he hasn't been seen ever since.
“I saw him go by me on the stretcher and that picture is stuck in my head forever,” explained McGill. “He was wearing blue jeans with pointed toe cowboy boots, a cowboy belt with a belt buckle on it and he had a big pot belly and I know he looks in the mirror every day and is thinking about my son because he has a permanent scar over his eye. He left the hospital that night when he shouldn't have but he did.”
McGill says each year is a struggle.
“Holidays are hard for all of us and having to hang that ornament every year, it's not an easy thing to do and it never will be,” said McGill. "It took me almost a year until I could go to the grave site and stay because I couldn't think of my son being in the ground in a box in the dark all by himself."
Since her son's death, McGill has shared a vehement desire to keep drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel. And the blue metal sign towering along FM 2154 in College Station is the latest symbol of hope.
“I went online and found the application, I filled it in and within about a week the guy called me and asked me where I wanted the sign and it took a few months to put up, but I’m really happy with it,” said McGill. “With the sign we let people know it's drinking and driving that did this and this person paid for it so don't you do the same thing.”
In 2007 the DUI Memorial program was implemented to allow friends and family of victims killed in drunk driving accidents in Texas to purchase memorial signs. The signs will have the victim's name, date of the crash and the phrases "Please Don't Drink and Drive."
In the meantime McGill continues healing her broken heart...
“I know in my heart that one day, that god is going to take care of it for me,” added McGill.
And even after nine years, her mission to prevent an irresponsible decision to drive drunk behind the wheel is far from over.
“Nobody can ever know how we feel until you've been there and I fight as much as I can and tell as many people as I can trying to keep somebody else feeling like we do,” McGill said. “And I won't hesitate to talk about him. He was a part of our family then and he still is. He is just physically not here.”
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