Authorities kick off annual drinking & driving campaign in honor of Texoma teen

By: Morgan Downing Email
By: Morgan Downing Email

KIOWA, OK -- Law enforcement agencies across the nation, and right here in Texoma are kicking off their yearly Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. For one local police chief, the campaign hits close to home this year.

In December, authorities say Bonham High School senior Jesse Runyon got in his friend's car after a night of drinking, and that choice turned deadly for the two.

Now, Runyon's family is on a mission to end drunk driving. This year's annual campaign kicked off in Kiowa, Oklahoma, where Jesse's father is Chief of Police.

"I've worked these scenes over the years, but I've never applied it to myself this way until it happens to you," Tony Runyon said.

Kiowa Police Chief Tony Runyon lost his teenage son Jesse just eight months ago, after a drunk driving accident.

"We've always been dedicated in law enforcement to preventing drunk driving. But, it means so much more to me now that we have been personally impacted," he said.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troopers and police officers from several agencies across Southeastern Oklahoma joined Runyon today to kick off the annual "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign.

"One of the biggest dangers on our streets and highways is impaired driving," Calera Police Chief Don Hyde said.

"We're trying to send a message that don't make a bad decision. It's not just going to affect you. It's going to affect hundreds of people," Trooper William Arnett said.

While it is an annual campaign, this year's mission is to honor Jesse.

"I'm really honored about this," Jesse's mother, Melanie

"if we can save one life it's worth it. We can't save them all, but we have to try," Runyon

"so many of his friends have told me that since Jesse's accident, since he gave his keys to a friend and got in with another friend that had been drinking, since that accident they have decided that if they are drinking they are not going to be on the road," Melanie Griffin said.

The agencies began the campaign with a safety check point in Kiowa.

"There'll be people arrested tonight here locally I'm sure that are under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. It's just a fact of life," Arnett said.

Law enforcement agencies will be increasing patrols and setting up safety checkpoints through September 2nd.

"It's zero tolerance. If you're caught impaired behind the wheel, you're going to go to jail," Arnett said.


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