TULSA — The Tree of Life set up at the Woodland Hills Mall honors lives cut short by drunk drivers.
Members of Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Tulsa Police, Broken Arrow Police, Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, members of the ABLE Commission and AAA gathered Tuesday morning in front of the tree to reiterate the dangers of drunk driving this holiday season.
Under the tree are 89 wrapped gifts. Each one represents a life lost in Tulsa County since 2014.
One of them represents 24-year-old Areale Louie. The expectant mother was hit and killed by a drunk driver May 6 on the Tisdale Parkway and Apache Street.
He mother, Misty Thompson, stood alongside law enforcement to share her daughter's story to deter people from drunk driving.
"To get a knock on my door to tell me my daughter was killed in a car wreck by an impaired driver, that’s the worst news a mother can get," Thompson said.
Thompson's plans for a baby shower turned into a funeral arrangement.
"It could have been avoided, but one bad decision took my daughter’s life," Thompson said.
She cried as she hung an ornament with her daughter's picture on the Tree of Life Tuesday morning. The pain is raw, but Thompson fights through the tears to tell Louie's story.
"Sorry is not good enough," Thompson said. "Sorry is not going to bring my child back. Sorry is not going to bring my grand baby back. Sorry is not going to do any of that. You can’t fix that."
Law enforcement said they will be stepping up patrols during the holidays looking for impaired drivers, so no other presents have to be added under the Tree of Life next year.
People who have lost loved ones at the hand of a drunk driver are invited to bring an ornament or something that represents the victim to the Woodland Hills Mall Office and it will be put on the tree.
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