The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the deadliest days of the year for drunk driving.
In fact, this day is often dubbed “Blackout Wednesday.”
On this day five years ago, Laura Kinkton experienced her last celebration — ever — with her son Kody Kinkton.
“Today is actually my dad’s birthday and five years ago today I had my family in Louisiana, I was living in Louisiana then. My whole family, all my kids, my grandkids, everybody was together and thankfully was the last day I spent with Kody,” Kinkton said.
Dakota “Kody” Kinton died after being hit by a drunk driver in 2019. The 24-year-old sailor was stationed at NAS JAX.
He left the base for four minutes and was struck and killed while riding his motorcycle on Roosevelt Boulevard, a moment that completely shattered his family.
“I miss him so much every day,” Kinkton said.
According to the United States Department of Transportation, every 39 minutes, one person dies in the U.S. from drunk-driving crashes, and this time of year is when we start to see a spike in drunk driving.
From 2017 to 2021, 137 drivers were involved in fatal crashes on Thanksgiving Eve, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Last year in Jacksonville, 33 DUI-related arrests were made over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Sheriff T.K. Waters has this message for the community this year:
“It’s not illegal to enjoy cocktails during the holiday season, it is not. It’s not illegal for anyone to do that. But it is illegal to get behind the wheel of a car impaired. If you’ve had one drink, don’t get behind the wheel of a car,” Waters said.
That’s the message Kinkton wishes the drunk driver had heard before getting into a vehicle and killing her son.
She recently opened a daycare called “Mia Bella” in Orange Park to keep his legacy alive.
“It breaks my heart… it breaks my heart,” Laura said.
But she is far from healing from the pain of her son’s death.