Victim of drunk driving accident warns Idaho drivers about dangers

Posted at 6:48 PM, May 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-27 20:48:07-04

Memorial day is not just the start of summer but also the start of what Idaho State Police consider the 100 deadliest days on Idaho roads.

25-year old Heather Orchard's life changed in the blink of an eye. On July 15, 2013, Orchard's was involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver."

It was an accident she says could've been avoided.

"This wasn't his first offense. The estimated speed of the impact was 130 miles per hour," said Orchard.

It was the second offense for the driver who was just barely above the legal drinking age. Corporal Kenny Walker with Idaho State Police says moments like this should not even be considered accidental and he expresses a low tolerance for drunk drivers.

"I don't like to classify something where someone has been impaired and gets into a crash as an accident because it's not an accident. It could have been prevented," said Corporal Walker.

Orchard says the incident left her with a broken leg and hand. She added despite the circumstances all she could think about was the other driver.

"I had so much adrenaline going through my body," said Orchard "When I saw the other car on fire my first reaction was to get out and make sure there wasn't anyone else in the car. He was completely passed out. He wasn't wearing any clothes except his underwear," said Orchard.

Orchard accident like many others took place during the 100 deadliest days of summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

"Last year we had 90 deaths during the first 100 days of summer," said Corporal Walker.

After her accident Orchard joined Mothers Against Drunk Driving in hopes to stop others from suffering the same fate

Friday law enforcement agencies from across the state gathered at the Idaho State Police headquarters to hear Orchard's story, and to brainstorm on how to prevent similar incidents from happening.

Corporal Walker says despite options like Uber and Lyft, the problem isn't going away. In fact, it's getting worse. 

In response, agencies across the state have increased their manpower to fight against distracted and drunk drivers through the summer.

"The biggest take away that I've learned from this is to always help people in need and do not think twice about it because every day you just don't know what somebody is going through."

Orchard says after the accident the man who hit her only spent six months in jail. She has chosen not to meet the driver.