CLEVES, Ohio - A Cleves mother fighting for tougher sentences for drunk drivers who kill – like the man who killed her daughter last year -- says lawmakers have ignored her plea for help.
The former local director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, whose son was killed under much the same circumstances more than 30 years ago, says she understands her frustration.
As her daughter Lisa lie dying in a hospital, Karen Hasting held her hand and promised that she would get justice for the 22-year-old. Karen Hasting said she has written 20 local lawmakers asking them to help toughen the maximum penalty for aggravated vehicular homicide, but only three even responded - and none has taken up her cause.
Police said Dennis Alsip, then 19, was drunk and drugged when he slammed his car head-on into Lisa Hasting's vehicle last July.
Alsip, 20, pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated vehicular homicide and faces sentencing Aug. 1, but Karen Hasting says no matter what his sentence is it won't be enough, because Ohio law limits the penalty to two to eight years.
"If I hear eight years, I will be happy, but not really. A person's life is worth more than eight years," Hasting said Monday.
The neglect from lawmakers makes the pain of losing her daughter even worse.
"I wrote them back in January ... and the message it sends me is it's not important and we really don't have the time," Hasting said.
Andrea Rehkamp has felt the same pain as Hasting. In 1981, her son Ken Watson was hit by a drunk driver and burned to death. The driver received a $50 fine, had his license suspended for six months and was placed on probation for six months.
Rehkamp said she was "horrified" by the light sentence and that's what inspired her to help start MADD Southwestern Ohio and become an advocate for victims and families in drunk-driving cases.
"Every family I work with is insulted," Rehkamp said. "Ultimately the defendant will be out of prison … go on with their life."
Hasting promises her crusade for Lisa will go on, and she has this message for lawmakers.
"I made a promise to my daughter … as long as I am alive, I will work on that," Hasting said.
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