Family turns tragedy into holiday lesson to prevent more death

Family turns tragedy into holiday lesson to prevent more death

LORAIN COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - The holidays bring an unfortunate reality: increased cases of drunk driving.

A Lorain County family has a powerful message before you get behind the wheel drunk.

A mother and her son were killed when a drunk driver slammed into their car head-on.

The Tomasheski family was torn apart by that horrible car crash and the nightmare has not ended for them.

"There is never a day I don't think of this," said Tom Tomasheski. He and his wife Debbie lost their daughter-in-law and grandson to the car crash.

In June 2011, 35-year-old Gerald Weatherbee hit the car their son Tom was driving with his wife and two kids inside.

"My grandson was in the back of the car and the trooper told me he had died," Tomasheski said.

Their daughter-in-law Tammy didn't make it either. Their son Tom and granddaughter Danielle pulled through after months in the hospital.

Their lives were completely shattered. They had to learn to live without Tammy and Tommy.

"He was an amazing little boy, he was tender and sweet. And he would've been a great man like my sons are," Tomasheski said.

"I've chosen two of the brightest stars in the sky, and one represents each of them," said Debbie Tomasheski.

The suspect, a two-time convicted drunk driver and sex offender, was sentenced to 35 years

"Life wouldn't be long enough. But we ended up getting the life sentence," Debbie said.

Tom thought he'd seen it all before this. He was a police officer for nearly three decades. Then tragedy fell on his own family.

"I thought I understood, but I honestly didn't have a clue. I do now," he said.

This is one of the first holidays they've been able to decorate their house and put up the lights again.

The thought of what could have been still haunts them.

"It's a hurt that doesn't go away," Debbie said. "And it's a hurt that doesn't have to be," Tom added.

Tom now speaks to convicted drunk drivers, telling his family's story in hopes of saving even one life.

"My story is simple. Look at my pain and see if it's worth drinking and driving," he said.

His son is on disability now but he's staying busy with photography.

His granddaughter that survived the crash just turned 18.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, so far in 2015, there have been 986 deadly accidents in Ohio.

29 percent of those involved an impaired driver.

Last year there were 948 fatal crashes in Ohio and 36 percent were OVI-related.

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