COLUMBIA — As Emmas Law a bill that is the first significant effort in years to curb the states soaring drunken driving deaths moved toward a state House floor showdown Wednesday, signs and bumper stickers were everywhere.
And businesses in Lexington County, including Marty Rae furniture store, and at least one in Richland are displaying messages on their stores marquees, urging the bills passage.
That poor little girl. You cant bring her back, Marty Raes owner George Carson Jr. said Tuesday. It doesnt hit home until its someone we know, then it wakes us up. The long-term effect is heartbreaking.
Carson was talking about Emma Longstreet, the 6-year-old Lexington girl killed by a repeat DUI offender in 2012. Since the girls death, her father, David Longstreet, has mounted a crusade to close numerous loopholes in the states DUI laws that allow people accused of DUI to avoid trial and easily get another type of license that allows them to drive again.
Since Emma died, more than 500 other South Carolinians have been killed by drunken drivers. Three-year-old Josiah Jenkins, the grand nephew of Columbia fire chief Aubrey Jenkins, was killed in March, also by a repeat offender.
On Tuesday, Chief Jenkins joined with David Longstreet to send a letter to each of the 124 members of the S.C. House of Representatives, begging them to get tough on hard-core DUI offenders. They are to speak at a rally on the south side of the Statehouse beginning at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Please pass Emmas Law, they wrote. Emma and Josiah could have been saved had the (law) been in effect ... .
The bill, authored by Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, one of the legislatures foremost child and highway safety advocates, has already passed the Senate.
Other business people spoke out Tuesday about the Longstreets ordeal.
Brian Peed, who owns Floor Boys in Lexington, said, Theyre a great family with high morals. The way they handled the loss amazed me. The way they showed their faith in the toughest time. Anything I can do to support that, I will.
Chris Wooten, a trainer who runs Body Shop Athletics in Lexington, said, I support the family.