A crash involving a drunk driver took the life of a Yukon mother on New Year’s Eve. Now, a second victim, foreign exchange student Nhu Huong passed away on Sunday.
“It’s not what we expected,” said family spokeswoman Kathy Winslow over the phone. “We thought she would be healed and walk out of the hospital.”
Winslow said Huong’s progress was improving since the accident but over the past few days, her brain activity had decreased. Her parents from Vietnam were able to obtain emergency visas to be here for their daughter. They were by her side when she passed away early Sunday morning.
“She started to deteriorate so they made the decision to let her go,” Winslow said.
Huong came to Oklahoma as an exchange student. She was visiting her host family over the holidays when they were hit by a drunk driver on New Year's Eve. Her host mother, Mandy Starkey-Carson died in the crash. Starkey-Carson’s two young daughters survived.
“What's sad about this is that this could have been prevented,” said Rep. Mike Sanders.
Sanders said he is looking at ways to strengthen the DUI laws in Oklahoma.
“These DUIs are swept under the rug,” he said. “Counties, cities don't communicate with one another.”
Craig Maker, of Edmond, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and DUI in connection with the crash. He will now face additional charges.
However, court records show Maker has pleaded guilty to DUI charges four other times since 2011. Last year, lawmakers passed House Bill 3146, in an effort to keep repeat drunk drivers like Maker off the road.
“I really believe that had this been in place two, three, four years ago, this may not have happened,” Sanders said.
Under the Impaired Driving Elimination Act (IDEA), all DUI cases are moved from municipal non-courts of record to a court of record, ensuring the district attorneys have access to a driver’s records.
Sanders said the problem in this case, is that Maker was previously prosecuted in courts of record. It’s unknown how many, if any, DUIs he had in non-courts of record.
“Is it a fix all fix all? Probably not, I’m not naive to think that but I will tell you major, major steps in the right direction and I believe this will save lives,” he said.
Meanwhile, Huong’s family is planning a public viewing and memorial for her in Oklahoma City from noon to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 17 at Absolute Economical Funeral Home. She will be buried in Vietnam.