BEND, Ore. - A Bend man was on his way to Klamath Falls last Friday when he came upon a serious car crash that claimed a woman's life, despite his and others' efforts to help her.
Gene Perez told NewsChannel 21 on Monday he'd jumped into action and tried to help a woman, 66-year-old Terry Kirwan of Klamath Falls, who was trapped in a car. She was riding in a van struck by an alleged drunk driver.
Perez said Kirwan was badly injured and that he and some others who had stopped tried to help her. He held her hand and sang her a song his mother used to sing to him, as she passed away.
"You know, she had every reason to live the next day," Perez said. "And when you know they are dying and there (is) nothing you can do about it, it brings -- it makes you aware, and the only thing that I can do today is make other people aware."
Deschutes County sheriff's Sgt. William Bailey said there really are no patterns to the drunk driving incidents they see. One month they can see a lot, and the next the numbers can drop, for no clear reason.
He attributed this fluctuation in numbers to resources being stretched too thin, when drunk driving incidents are more frequent.
Bailey added that there is a simple solution to this problem -- and it's on the public to make the right decision.
"If someone has had too much to drink, or even thinks they have had too much to drink, we encourage them to call a taxi, call Uber, call a friend -- park the car and walk home, he said. "It's the safest choice."
Bailey added that each one of their deputies is trained to be on the lookout for impaired drivers, but they are also reliant on the community to be an extra set of eyes and ears.
That's something that Perez believes to be true as well. He said it is imperative that people make the right choice and not get behind the wheel impaired.
"What we need to do is come together as a people -- us people -- doesn't matter if you are a Republican or a Democrat -- and say, 'Look, something's wrong here,'" Perez said. "We have people that die on the highway, (and) can't get ... help for 45 minutes. They die from other, drunk drivers."
Perez said he hopes that by sharing his experience, he might be able to help people make the right choice.