Congressman Ruiz rallies group to stop drunk driving

The death of an east valley women continues to spur action from the community and its leaders.  Congressman Raul Ruiz held a special news conference with valley leaders, law enforcement, firefighters and representatives from local hospitals to show a united front against drunk driving.  "As a unified community, we have the power to stop this epidemic," said Ruiz at the Palm Desert Sheriff's station.  

The forum grew out of a campaign started following the death of Celena Nava. The 25-year-old was jogging in Coachella with a friend on the night of October 20.  A suspected drunk driver hit and killed Nava and badly injured Julie Dominguez.  "Celena's family, her friends and many other victims of DUI have lost loved, have responded," said Dr. Kargo Khoury, who's been working with the family.  

Khoury started a Facebook page called "Shutdown drunk driving," which now has more than 18,000 followers.  The grassroots campaign has a become a rallying cry for people like Lory Gleason who lost her son to a drunk driver and now is a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).   "The grief, the pain, the loss, I feel very badly for the family," said Gleason.  "I feel badly for all the families that have to endure this pain." 

Organizers say more than 1,000 people are expected to join the "Silent Stand on 111" on Saturday.  Supporters of putting an end to driving under the influence will meet at Bob Hope and Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage to send a clear message.  "Everyone has an idea or a suggestion to how we can eliminate DUI so put it on a sign, come out there and hopefully something sticks," said Dr. Khoury.  

Also out of discussion, the Coachella Valley Association of Governments formed a special committee of valley mayors, law enforcement and community members to look at solutions to prevent DUI.  

The "Silent Stand" will begin at Highway 111 and Bob Hope at 10 AM.  They'll walk towards Palm Desert beginning at noon.  Attendees are encouraged to wear red. 

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