DUI exhibit stirs painful memories for Valley family

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Valley family dealing with a major loss helped Fresno Police unveil their newest exhibit in the fight against drunk driving.

A smashed-up car in which three women were killed when they were hit by a drunk driver was now displayed inside a DUI collision trailer. But the powerful image was too much for some family members.

The wrecked Toyota Yaris brought back painful memories for family members, but they felt it was important to put this car on display. Sisters Jennie Monreal, Josephine Contreras and Dolores Rodriguez all died during a head-on collision with a drunk driver January 25, 2014. It happened on McCall near Belmont. A fourth sister, Elizabeth Rodriguez, was critically injured, but she was the lone survivor. Jennie Monreal's son Anthony said, "The vehicle behind me. Senseless act. For some reason, an individual made a choice to drink and drive."

The smashed in car was now part of a DUI collision trailer police are using to illustrate the dangers of drunk driving. Chief Jerry Dyer said it's not enough to tell people not to drink and drive. He explained, "But also to educate their children to not get into the vehicle with someone with someone who has made that decision to consume alcohol"

In 2015, Fresno had 328 DUI-related collisions. 12 people were killed. 79 more were injured. Fresno County Assistant district attorney Steve Wright said, "When someone chooses to drink and drive and there's a collision that's a crime. That's not an accident."

Family members bowed their heads in prayer outside the trailer inside Valdez Hall. The difficult decision to display the car was made to help other families avoid heartbreak. Monreal said, "That would be a wonderful tribute to their lives and that their passing will not have been in vain."

The man responsible for the crash-- Tranquilino Figueroa-- was a repeat offender. He is now serving time for DUI vehicular manslaughter. Monreal added, "Victims don't have a choice here but the people who choose to drink and drive do."

Elizabeth Rodriguez told Action News she and her sisters were always sweet to each other and everyone else.

The trailer will be taken to valley schools and other sites to help educate people about the dangers of drunk driving.
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