SAN DIEGO — San Diego law enforcement has been out in full force this Labor Day weekend reminding drivers to never get behind the wheel while impaired. Saturday night, officers were joined at a DUI checkpoint by the widow of a San Diego officer whose life was cut short by a drunk driver.
Melanie Nava-Pulley shared her story of heartache and loss in the hope that the message reaches even just one person.
"It destroys a family,” she said. “I’ll never forget Sean. Our family changed - our whole family changed, his parents changed, everything changed.”
Nava-Pulley lost her husband California Highway Patrol officer Sean Nava in 2000. A drunk driver hit and killed him while he was investigating an earlier DUI crash on Interstate 5 in Carlsbad. At the time, their two sons were just children.
“The youngest one just graduated from college in May,” Nava-Pulley said. “[Sean] should have seen that.”
The CHP officer’s widow took part in a DUI checkpoint in Carlsbad on Saturday to try and educate the public.
Across the state, the number of DUI arrests is higher this year compared to 2018 during the holiday weekend. There were 685 arrests in California last year, this year the number has climbed to 717.
In San Diego County, however, the numbers are down. There were 60 arrests last year and 40 this year.
"When you drink and drive - that will not be tolerated,” said CHP officer Mark Latulippe.
He knows all too well how DUI drivers can tear apart families. In 2017 his cousin, his cousin’s wife and his cousin’s son died when they were hit and killed by someone driving drunk.
"I'm raising a 10-year-old that lost her mom, brother, [and] her dad to a drunk driver.” Latulippe said. “She lives with me because of a choice that some body else made. Drinking and driving is a choice.”
Latulippe and Nava-Pulley along with their families want to spread the same message:
"If I can prevent one person – or these officers can prevent one person – from getting hurt or dying then it means everything,” Nava-Pulley said
Saturday’s checkpoint even also recognized CHP officer Stephen Linen who was killed by a DUI driver in 2001 in Encinitas. The CHP says it can’t stress enough how many options are out there right now – including rideshare services - to get home safely.