WILKES-BARRE – James and Kathy Seeman of Wilkes-Barre live in mourning every day.
They miss their daughter, Amber, who was killed in a car crash in April 2007, and they keep her memory alive for their 10-year-old granddaughter.
It's very, very hard, James Seeman said Thursday while standing outside the DUI Victims Moving Memorial that made a stop on Public Square. Christmas and her birthday (Dec. 30) are the worst.
The memorial, developed by the Pennsylvania DUI Association, is a 25-foot trailer featuring about 2,100 names, including Amber Seeman. Those same people also are honored in the Harrisburg memorial garden.
And it's because of upcoming holidays the trailer is visiting several locations throughout Pennsylvania.
Alcohol is involved in holiday parties, and we want to remind people to get a sober driver, Rebecca Rybak, coordinator for the Northeast Highway Safety Program said.
Rybak said DUI-related accidents that lead to death affect not only the families involved but the community as a whole.
Since I took office in January, far too often I've seen families destroyed because of losing a family member in a devastating accident, District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said Thursday while visiting the memorial.
In the Seemans' case, Amber was 26 when she was killed in an April 2007 crash. Police say she was a passenger in a vehicle driven by John E. Day, 36, last known address of Hunlock Creek.
Day lost control of his vehicle on Wilkes-Barre Boulevard in Wilkes-Barre and struck a tree. Police said Day had a blood-alcohol content of .16 percent and Amber died on the scene.
An adult driver in Pennsylvania is considered intoxicated with a BAC of .08 percent.
Day later pleaded guilty to a single count of homicide by motor vehicle while driving under the influence and was sentenced in January 2008 to three to six years in state prison, plus one to two years on an unrelated drug case.
Kathy Seeman said that after serving four years in prison Day was released about four months ago and will now get to see his son grow up.
My granddaughter will never see her mother again, Kathy Seeman said. But we keep her memory alive all the time.
James Seeman said it doesn't seem fair that people convicted of homicide by motor vehicle while DUI are permitted to do their time and get out of jail to go on with their lives.
And we live with this forever, James Seeman said.
Salavantis said she wishes the state had more strict laws regarding DUI.
In my opinion … fatalities (in the area) have increased involving intoxication, Salavantis said. We have to remember the people we've lost and remember to never get behind the wheel (while intoxicated).
As for the Seemans, they'll forever be followers of a quote that appears on the outside of the DUI memorial: Never a day passes that we do not remember.