Valley man loses son to drunk driver, urges people to drive safely on New Year's Eve

PHOENIX, AZ - As folks toast to the New Year and celebrate 2013, it's important to avoid driving after those celebratory drinks when the ball drops at midnight.

"He was the kind of person that, when he walked in the room, everybody stopped talking to each other and looked at him," said Valley resident Mike DiPatri, who lost his son, Stephen, at the age of 24.

In September of 2007, an underage drunk driver collided with Stephen's motorcycle in North Carolina.

Life hasn't been the same for the Dipatris ever since.

"And it was just like…everything sank. We lost everything," said DiPatri.

"Unfortunately, New Year's Day is the most deadly day for drunk drivers," said Kelly Dupps, a program specialist with Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Arizona.

And according to MAAD, 70 people were killed after midnight nationwide on New Year's Day in 2012.

Dupps says Arizona alone has seen its fair share of DUIs.

"More than 3,000 people have been arrested as a result of DUIs this holiday season, just here in Arizona," said Dupps.

And for the Dipatris, one driver's poor decision, has affected their lives forever.

"We have a family tree. One branch of that tree has been cut off," said Dirpatri. "The part that was Stephen has been cut off and it won't grow back."

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