Mother takes to air to stop would-be drunk drivers

Austin grad high res.JPG
Austin Melville

Sandy Melville wanted to make sure drunk drivers know that driving impaired could mean losing more than your driver's license.

Sandy's son, Austin Melville, died on Nov. 27, 2010 , from injuries suffered when Christopher Trautman , driving with a blood-alcohol of .18, more than twice the legal limit, hit Melville while he was crossing the street. Melville was 23.

Since his death, Sandy Melville has been doing whatever she can to stop people from driving drunk. She has spoken at schools, at driver's education classes and MADD meetings and conferences.

Earlier this year, she decided she wanted to record a public service announcement (PSA) to show what would happen if someone made the choice to drive drunk, and then injured or killed an innocent victim.

"You see all of these PSAs on TV about drunk drivers. They're all geared toward the person making the choice to drive impaired," Melville said. "It shows what it will cost them. You see them losing their keys and their clothes. You see them opening the window and all of the alcohol comes out.


"It's all geared to how it will change their lives and how much it will cost the person that makes that deadly choice," Melville said. "It makes me mad because innocent people are killed by these people all of the time."

Melville went to KXLT-Fox 47 in Rochester and shared her idea with Senior Marketing Producer Jennifer Janvrin, who approved it.

In the video , Melville's image is paired with that Minnesota Vikings player Marcus Sherels, who was in Austin's graduating class in 2006 at John Marshall High School. As boys, they played youth football together.

Austin was a huge football fan, his mother says, and he dreamed of calling Green Bay Packers football games on radio or TV. He was a member of his university's chapter of the National Broadcasting Society and was a sports anchor on News 24, a weekly news program available on cable access.

Melville said her son was ready to achieve his dreams, just like Sherels has done.

"(Sherels is) a local kid who has made it big. He lives (in Rochester) in the offseason and all these kids look up to him," she said. "He's a great role model for local kids. I really felt like Marcus could reach kids and help them decide to not drink and drive."

By the time Fox 47 was ready to record the PSA, though, Sherels was in Vikings training camp in Mankato. So instead, pictures of Sherels and Austin Melville were used.

The PSA has been airing on KTTC-TV, KXLT-TV, the CW and MeTV.


Almost four years after her son's death, Melville still struggles with it and vows to do whatever she can to stop similar incidents from happening.

"I'm just trying to make a difference and get people to realize drinking and driving is deadly," she said. "At times, the only thing that gets me through some days is being a voice for Austin. He would expect me to do something and not just sit on my hands.

"I need to make a difference for him and try to change this accepting culture of drinking and driving," she said. "It's not a mistake. It's a deadly choice."

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