New Jersey families who have lost loved ones in drunk driving crashes came together today to commemorate those lost lives and discuss the work ahead to end drunk and impaired driving.

The emotional New Jersey Remembers ceremony took place at the Trenton War Memorial where families participated in a processional during which they were escorted by local law enforcement and State Troopers.  The families also displayed photos of their loved ones and lit candles in their honor.  They were also given the opportunity to say a few words of remembrance about their relatives to the 250 attendees.

"Today is a solemn day, but it is also a day to remember those loved ones who were taken from you by a drunk or impaired driver," said Attorney General Jeff Chiesa.  "Those of us who have not experienced what you have can't begin to imagine your pain, or comprehend the void left in your lives by this tragedy.  But my hope for this gathering is that it offers something meaningful to take with you when you leave."

"Hopefully, this gathering will provide you with positive energy, the encouragement of hearing from others like yourselves and perhaps, the re-invigoration of your advocacy on this vital issue," said Chiesa.

In New Jersey, alcohol-related crash fatalities account for about a quarter of all crash fatalities.  In 2011, 152 people died in alcohol-related crashes, down from 2010, when 168 lost their lives.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 10,000 people die each year on our nation's roadways as a result of drunk or impaired driving, which is one person every 51 minutes.

After the victims tribute, officers with the most Driving While Intoxicated arrests from each of the 21 counties and all four State Police troops were honored for their efforts in 2012.  Last year, officers in New Jersey made more than 30,000 DWI arrests in the state.  The statewide leader was Pennsauken Township Officer Joe Kuchmek of Camden County who made 86 arrests.

Those honored were:

  • Ofc. Joseph Bereheiko, Atlantic City
  • Ofc. Michael Prelich, Elmwood Park
  • Srg. William J. Marshall, Delran
  • Ofc. Joe Kuchmek, Pennsauken
  • Ofc. Edwin Berdecia, NY/ NJ Port Authority
  • Sgt. Robert Brown, Lambertville
  • Ofc. Walter Silcox, West Windsor
  • Ofc. Herb Doctors, Old Bridge
  • Ofc. James Cardigan, Wall Twp.
  • Ofc. Matt Ambrosi, Mendham Twp.
  • Sgt. Steven Jones, Boonton Town, Morris
  • Ofc. Robert Westfall, Toms River
  • Ofc. Ralph Merced, Passaic
  • Sgt. Dale Fahr, Carney's Point
  • Ofc. Fredrick Fittin, South Bound Brook
  • Sgt. Seamus Geddis, Franklin Borough
  • Ofc. Tim Ford, Union Twp.
  • Sgt. David Garzon, Hackettstown

New Jersey State Police:

  • Trooper II Aaron Abbate, Troop A
  • Trooper Antonio Sousa, Troop B
  • Trooper I John Hall, Troop C
  • Trooper Miguel Guarda, Troop D *TIE*
  • Trooper Shaun Murray, Troop D *TIE*
  • Trooper Damien Joseph, Troop D - NJTP