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Nassau campaigns against drunken driving

A large group of advocates against drunken driving joined Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Police Commissioner Thomas Dale on Friday to announce the county's annual crackdown against drunken drivers on Memorial Day weekend.

"Drunk driving can be lethal and cause so many families tremendous heartache that might all have been avoided by drivers making responsible choices," Mangano said during a news conference at the county's Highway Patrol Bureau in North Bellmore.

He noted that four years ago, on May 18, Nassau County Police Officer Kenneth Baribault Jr., who had pulled over one drunken driver on the LIE, was hit by another drunken driver, Rahiem Griffin. Baribault is still recovering from multiple injuries, including brain trauma and ashattered pelvis. Griffin received a 7-year prison sentence.

Danielle Rella, a sister of Baribault, told the news conference how her brother is still struggling with his rehabilitation and is still in a wheelchair. "He recently was able to walk with a cane," she said, adding that he works 10-14 hours a day on his rehabilitation. "He has come further than anybody ever has with his injuries."

Dale said that beginning Saturday, the police department will increase enforcement efforts.

Joshua Lafazan, 18, who this month became the youngest person ever elected to the Syosset School Board, talked about a group he started last September -- Safe Ride Syosset -- that aims to help teenagers who might drink and drive or who are about to ride in a car with a drunken driver.

"They can call us instead at 516-375-4697, and we'll come pick them up," he said.

"Unfortunately, some kids are going to drink," he said. "We want to keep them safe and educate them."

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