BRUNSWICK, Ohio (WJW) – A Medina County mother is turning her grief into action advocating for stiffer legal penalties for adults who supply alcohol to minors.
Changing the law is a deeply personal mission for Sharon Pacek of Brunswick.
“I do feel him out here,” said Pacek.
Sitting in her backyard near a memorial for her son Trevor, Pacek prepares to mark nearly two years since his death.
“This is sheer hell,” she said. “Our family is broken, there’s a piece of our heart now that’s gone forever.”
She said an adult supplied her son 19, with alcohol at a bonfire. Trevor later was on a small boat with two other people on a pond nearby when it capsized.
“No family needs to see their son in a body bag,” said Pacek. “Those memories, they’re just stuck, those images are stuck.”
It’s a feeling she channeled into action by writing the governor for help to increase penalties for adults who give alcohol to people underage.
Gov. DeWine responded with a letter expressing his support. Pacek said she also has the support of State Rep. Sharon Ray (R-Wadsworth), who she joined Tuesday at the statehouse with her husband to introduce the bill during a press conference.
“House Bill 674, Trevor’s Bill elevates the charge of furnishing alcohol to a minor from an M1 misdemeanor to an F4 felony if that act results in a fatality,” said Rep. Ray.
A fourth-degree felony is punishable Rep. Ray said by six to 18 months in prison, up to $5,000 dollars fine and five years probation.
Lieutenant Scott Schmoll of the Medina County Sheriff’s Office said he also supports the proposed legislation. He said it’s difficult to quantify how large the issue is since it’s ongoing, especially this time of year during prom and graduation season. Lt. Schmoll said he still remembers responding to the scene.
“If something can be prevented, I’m all for that,” he said.
The house bill awaits a first hearing and is assigned to the House Criminal Justice Committee.
Although Trevor’s death did result in a conviction, Pacek said more could be done to prevent similar tragedies. Passing Trevor’s Bill she said could help save teenagers and young adults, so other parents do not have to endure life without their child.
“I miss Trevor every day,” said Pacek. “When we got married 36 years ago I never in a million years thought this was part of the bargain. We stood before God and said we would have children, but I never thought God would call him home so early.”