MESQUITE (CBSDFW.COM) – Julie and Guy Blasingame received a bittersweet delivery Tuesday afternoon. “It’s more bitter,” said Julie. “It doesn’t need to be here in my living room. It needs to be out on a highway where it can make a difference,” she added.
The Texas Department of Transportation returned a road sign that the Mesquite couple purchased for $300 in memory of their daughter, Rachel. The problem is, the Blasingames don’t want it back.
“If it was your daughter or your son or grandmother, you would fight too,” explained Julie.
Rachel Blasingame was killed in May of 2003 by a drunken driver on 635 near Military Parkway in Mesquite. She was 16 years old.
Years later, her parents convinced the Texas State Legislature to pass an initiative that allows family and friends of loved ones killed by drunken drivers to place memorial signs along state highways and interstates.
The signs would eventually mark the spot where the tragedies occurred. The memorial marker which reads: “Please don’t drink and drive. In memory of Rachel Blasingame, May 30, 2003” was the very first in the state.
The legislation, however, has a time limit that requires each sign to come down two years after it was put up. “Why can’t these be permanent? We need plenty of reminders all over to not drink and drive,” Julie argued as she spoke with Texas State Rep., Lance Gooden (R–Terrell) over the phone.
There are 125 memorial markers still standing along highways and interstates throughout Texas. Most markers, however, have past their two year time limit and are likely to come down in the coming months.
“There’s 125 other families that are going to go through the same thing,” said Julie. “For them to have that sign taken down, it’s kind of like grieving again.”
A piece of Rachel’s memory came home today. It’s a piece, however, her parents would rather see on the road where their daughter’s life came to tragic end. “It’s going to be very painful for me to go down 635 and it’s not up. That’s hard,” Julie said.
The Blasingames say they will once again ask the Texas Legislature for help, by lobbying lawmakers to drop the time limit on DWI memorial markers.