West Michigan mom calls for stricter drunk driving laws following daughter’s death

MUSKEGON, Mich. -- A mom is calling for stronger drunk driving laws after her daughter was killed by an accused drunk driver in Ottawa County last fall.

Sue Trethewey's daughter Brooke Feister was killed in a crash in October.

Trethewey has stayed silent for the most part but now, as the case makes its way through court she's sharing her story to ensure Brooke’s voice is heard.

"Until you get that phone call, and your life is just turned upside down like that, I have a life sentence, I never get out of it," Trethewey, said.

Trethewey will never forget that devastating October phone call.

"[The police officer] said he was sorry that he had to inform me that my daughter was involved in a drunk driver accident and she did not make it and at that point I lost it and handed over the phone to my husband," Trethewey, recalled.

Police say Brooke was driving on Lake Michigan Drive in Tallmadge Township when a car crossed the center line and hit her head-on.

"It's been real hard on the whole family. My girls have had a hard time, I'm a mom and i’m supposed to be helping but I can’t because I'm a mess," Trethewey, said.

A pre-med student with hopes to one day become a doctor, Brooke was just 26-years-old.

"I think she would want to be remembered as someone who could make a difference in someone else’s life. If I can save one person that’s worth everything," Trethewey, said.

Trethewey says the last 8 months have been torture. Though with Brooke in mind, she now wants to make a positive change.

"It seems like everyday I wake up there’s something on Facebook or the news about a drunk driver killing kids, adults, just this morning, yesterday morning, it's continuous. I want to do anything i can to make awareness out there, that you know let's make the laws stronger, so we don’t have this constant thing," she said.

In this case, it's a thing her family will forever struggle to deal with.

"It ruined two families, it didn’t just ruin one, it ruined two. Yes they get to see their family and eventually, but I don’t ever get that, I get a picture and her ashes," she said.

"I don’t get to go wedding shopping or just the simple talks. I know it was an accident but there’s consequences for everybody’s action."

Brooke's sister Nicole found out she was pregnant, just shortly before that crash.

Nicole gave birth to a baby girl named after her late sister, last month.

Benjamin Gladding is the accused drunk driver in this case, last week he pleaded no contest and will be sentenced on July 22nd.

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    • Michael

      How about changing the penalty to reflect the fact that you killed someone?

      OWI causing death is a 15 year max crime. That being said Michigan sets ranges for sentences. The minimum sentence can’t be more than 2/3 of the maximum which is 10 years.

      10 years in prison isn’t much for killing someone. I’ve seen people sentenced to 5 years numerous times for OWI causing death.

      5 years in prison for killing someone. That’s not much of a deterrent for a preventable death.

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