INDIANAPOLIS - The night before Thanksgiving has become one of the heaviest drinking nights, if not the heaviest night of drinking, of the year. That's why police across Indiana will step up patrols starting Wednesday and throughout the holiday weekend.
The National Safety Council estimates 421 people may be killed and another 48,500 may be seriously injured in car crashes this weekend across the country.
The night before the holiday has been called by many, "Blackout Wednesday."
“It's very concerning," said Hamilton County Sheriff Mark Bowen. "When you’re out in the masses, driving around with large crowds and groups, alcohol in those environments don’t mix very well.”
Bowen's agency and dozens of others have partnered together to have portable breath tests on hand through the weekend. They're also reminding Hoosiers about using their safety belt and encouraging to drive completely sober.
“We’ll have officers out, visible in the community, obviously looking for signs of impairment, and taking action," said Bowen.
While police can't be everywhere at once, they hope the public will stop people from driving when they shouldn't be behind the wheel, or notify proper authority.
“We encourage folks who work in the restaurant industry or folks who are out and about, if they see somebody who has had too much, to say something," Bowen said.
Pam Kelshaw applauds police and their crackdown on drunk driving.
“I’m very grateful for everything they do to try to do to make our roads as safe as possible," she said. She's lost both a daughter and nephew in separate drunk driving crashes. "Throughout the year and especially Wednesday when people are out binge drinking.”
Kelshaw's daughter, Silina was killed in 2002 at the age of 17, when a drunk driver crashed into the teenager's vehicle in Noblesville. Her nephew, Jesse Sperry was killed by a drunk driver in 2014 in Madison County. Sperry missed out on the birth of a child by just a few days.
“You have people that think, this won’t happen to me," said Kelshaw. "I was that person. I never thought, I would hear it on TV and think, oh that poor family. When it happens to you, reality kicks in."
Kelshaw hopes others will never experience what she and her family have gone through. Thursday during Thanksgiving, they'll place a plate out for Silina, even though they know she won't be there.
“Before they start their drinking, think twice," she said. "It could be deadly to you. It could be deadly to others because if you get behind the wheel and drive, you are taking the chance of killing somebody, or yourself.”