By Jessica Trufant/Daily News staff
Milford Daily News
MEDWAY — Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey visited Medway earlier this week, but it wasn’t due to a homicide or other serious crime.
Instead, the purpose of Morrissey’s trip was to prevent tragedies from happening by promoting the Hero Campaign for Designated Drivers – a program started in 2003 by Bill and Muriel Elliott of New Jersey, who lost their son, John, to a drunken driver in 2000. John Elliott had just graduated from the United States Naval Academy and was set to train as a naval flight officer.
While Norfolk County had zero murder indictments in 2012 – down from an average of seven a year during the past decade – preventable deaths are still a concern for the district attorney’s office, Morrissey said at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night.
“What we do see is a lot of people killed on highways and killed on roads,” he said, adding that there were 50 people killed or very seriously injured in alcohol-related crashes last year.
In an attempt to counter such crashes, Morrissey is encouraging communities in Norfolk County to participate in the voluntary program, which simply encourages bartenders or managers at establishments that serve alcohol to ask patrons if anyone in their group is a hero, or designated driver, for the evening.
Designated drivers then receive a “Be a Hero” wristband and a free soft drink as acknowledgment for being the sober driver.
“We’re asking on voluntary basis to have licensed establishments to join the Hero Campaign. It doesn’t cost any money, and one life saved is a success,” Morrissey said.
“The Patriots in Foxborough are leaders in this designated drinking program.”
Morrissey in November kicked off the campaign in Norfolk County at Patriot Place in Foxborough, and Gillette Stadium and many surrounding establishments joined the effort.
Establishments that participate receive stickers and posters to show that they support the cause and spread awareness.
“I’m not telling people not to drink. I’m telling them to be responsible,” Morrissey said, adding drunken driving crashes are one of the most common things he sees in his job.
Police Chief Allen Tingley said he would visit the various establishments in Medway to encourage them to participate in the campaign and provide them with the Hero stickers, wristbands and posters.
Tingley on Friday said he has already visited several restaurants regarding the campaign, and staff seemed to be very excited about it and more than willing to participate.
“I think it will be effective. Anything we can do to take drunk drivers off the roadways is a great thing, and it encourages people to have a designated driver when they go out with a group,” Tingley said. “I think it’s got potential here.”
Jessica Trufant can be reached at 508-634-7556 or JTrufant@wickedlocal.com.