‘Make sure you come home alive’: Summit County offering free rides over St. Patrick’s Day weekend

SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio -- Summit county officials have a message for those going out for St. Patrick's Day:  make sure you come home alive. They're offering free rides to help avoid people driving drunk.

Patricia Powell, a 17-year-old high school student who dreamed of going to college and eventually starting her own business was killed on the evening of March 27, 2016.  Her car broke down and as she was waiting for help on the side of Interstate 76 the driver slammed into her car and killed her.

The man who hit her was a 63-year-old from Tallmadge who had been out drinking and decided to drive.

"Her car overheated and she pulled to the shoulder. She had her hazards on. The sergeant said she did everything right but he just drove right into her on the shoulder of the road," Patricia's aunt, Kate Grady said.

Now, Grady along with the Summit County sheriff and prosecutor are promoting Arrive Alive, a program that allows for free rides home up to $65 in value during St. Patrick's Day weekend.

"Our goal with Arrive Alive is to protect the community, to keep drunk drivers off our road," Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said.

This is the fourth time that the Summit County Prosecutor's Office has offered Arrive Alive.

Since last July more than 200 people have taken advantage of the program.

The prosecutor said keeping drunk drivers off the roads has to be a community effort.

"We have been going out to all the bars and restaurants. usually several days in advance. passing out flyers. They've been really cooperative with it. They've been excited by the program," Bevan Walsh explained.

Meanwhile, Grady told FOX 8 sharing what happened to her niece is a way to keep Patricia's memory alive and a way to warn people about the dangers of drunk driving.

She said she does this not with sadness but with concern about others and to help them have a future that Patricia will now never get.

"There is a safe ride at your fingertips. I hope that everyone shares the information about the program and that local business owners are printing out the flyer and hanging it. I know Patricia wouldn't want us to perpetually be angry and she'd want ups to turn this into something positive," Grady said.

The Arrive Alive program starts Friday at 6 p.m. and runs through 6 a.m. Monday. You can call (330) 475-7888 for your free ride.

More on St. Patrick's Day 2019, here.

More on Patricia Powell, here.

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