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Maryland Remembers Lives Lost Due To Drunk Driving

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Maryland Remembers, drunk driving victims
Monique Griego 370x278 Monique Griego
Monique Griego joined the WJZ News Team in July 2011 as a General...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—The start of the holiday season means lots of holiday parties. Sadly, that typically results in more people drinking and driving. Thursday night, families affected by drunk drivers joined together for Maryland Remembers.

Monique Griego has more from Annapolis.

Dozens of families gathered in Annapolis. While the event can be a sad occasion, it can also be a time of healing.

It’s a procession the Celentano family never imagined they’d be a part of.

“Our girl, Alisa Marie Celentano, we lost her Dec. 2, 2001 and our hearts still ache for her,” said Jerry Celentano, whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver.

For Jerry and Paula Celentano, no amount of time can erase the pain of losing their daughter Alisa. The vibrant 18-year-old was killed after a drunk driver slammed into the car she was riding in.

Twelve years later, they honor her memory by joining together with other families for Maryland Remembers, an annual event in Annapolis to honor victims of drunk driving.

“There’s a kindred spirit that you don’t want to have or mean to have, but it’s there. You have to,” Jerry Celentano said.

“We didn’t sign up for this club, but it’s nice to know there are others that understand,” Paula Celentano said.

The room is lined with the faces of countless lives cut short. As family after family shared their stories, it was obvious many are still struggling to deal with the pain of their loss.

“The stories are the same. The details change. But unfortunately, it all ends the same way. Tragically, they lost a loved one,” Jerry Celentano said.

The event comes before what can be a celebratory but also deadly time of year.

Law enforcement leaders hope it reminds people to enjoy the holidays responsibly.

“This is a conscious choice somebody is making to drink and get behind the wheel of a car, and the results are tragic,” said Col. Marcus Brown, Maryland State Police.

The Celentanos say having the state dedicate this day to victims helps families keep their memories alive.

“It’s a way of them saying ‘We didn’t forget Alisa.’ We can’t, but it’s nice to know they can’t as well,” Jerry Celentano said.

In honor of her memory, Alisa’s parents say her little sister has become a paramedic.

Law enforcement leaders say New Year’s Day marks one of the deadliest days on the road.

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