SLIDELL, La. - Starting Friday night, Slidell Police are taking an innovative approach to combat drunk driving.
They're offering free rides home to anyone who needs one. The program is in response to a deadly overnight crash.
In a parking lot outside the Slidell Police crime lab sit the mangled remains of two vehicles.
An open beer can lies just beneath the front seat of the green Chevy Blazer that police say Ronnie Holmes, 42, was driving. Investigators believe Holmes was intoxicated when he drove South down Front Street around 2 am Friday. They are still awaiting toxicology results.
Police said Holmes had did not have his headlights on and wasn’t wearing a seat belt when he sped through a red light and struck a White Chevy truck at the intersection of Fremaux Avenue and Front Street, said police.
Holmes died at the scene. The driver of the white Chevy, Jeffrey Broussard, 23, walked away with minor injuries- likely saved by his seat belt. Police said Broussard was not impaired and was not at fault, and he was not issued any citations.
By 5:30 Friday night, the remnants of police tape waved in the wind at the crash site. A few car parts were left on the sidewalk.
“Unfortunately we see a big increase in these type of accidents this time of year,” said Slidell Police Detective Daniel Seuzeneau.
The deadly crash prompted Slidell police to launch a new Safe and Sober program. The department is offering free rides home to anyone who needs them through the start of the New Year. They're also increasing DWI patrols.
“There should be absolutely no excuse for anybody to be on the streets in Slidell impaired,” said Seuzeneau. “I encourage everybody, if you cannot find a ride, if you cannot find a cab, please call the police department we will make sure you get home safely.”
Those extra efforts are crucial, according to David Stokes. He has run Ashlee’s Angels, a free ride service in St. Tammany Parish, since his daughter was seriously injured by a drunk driver four years ago.
“We know that every weekend we wind up with people who call to use our service and our resources are already booked,” said Stokes. “And we have no way to help those individuals. That demand continues to out due our resources on a weekly basis.”
Currently, Ashlee’s Angels has one car on the road Friday and Saturday nights from 9 pm until 2 am. The organization is booked through New Year’s Day.
Meanwhile, Holmes family is speaking out on the Slidell Police Department’s Facebook page.
“The man that was killed in this accident was my brother! Ronny E Holmes was survived by five beautiful daughters! Please, please have the police pick you up if are drinking! Do not put your family though what we are facing now! And do not become another Slidell statistic! Rest In Peace Ronny E Holmes! We love you!” said Nikki Glasgow.
“I wish he thought things [through]. I'm sorry dad I wasn't there for you to call me. I love you. So much,” said Meaghan Holmes.
If you live in Slidell and need a safe ride home, call the police department at 985-643-3131. SPD may expand the program beyond January first if it's successful.
If you would like a ride home through Ashlee’s Angels, call 1-800-506-6384.
Slidell Police and Ashlee’s Angels encourage you to plan ahead and designate a driver or get a cab if you plan to drink.
If you are unable to do so, you are encouraged to call SPD or Ashlee’s Angels for a ride.