‘I miss him every day:’ Mother remembers son lost to drowsy driving

Law enforcement, prosecutors and advocates urge people not to drive while sleepy.
Updated: Nov. 19, 2019 at 6:44 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Shelia Faulkner remembers her son, Wendall Williams, who was killed in 2006 in a car crash caused by a driver who apparently fell asleep.

Her son was a passenger and the driver fell asleep at the wheel after being up for more than 22 hours.

“I miss him every day,” Faulkner said. "But during the holidays makes it worse.”

For Faulkner, Nov. 19 is also not a day she forgets because it is Drowsy Driving Awareness Day in Alabama. The state legislature passed the resolution in memory Wendall Williams.

Faulkner’s story is similar to Carolyn Tyus’ loss of her son Renota Tyus.

“He was a social butterfly,” she said.

Tyus’ son died after a drunk driver crashed into him.

More than 4,000 people were killed in car crashes in which drivers fell asleep or were too sleepy to safely operate a vehicle between 2013 to 2017 in the United States, according to prosecutors Tuesday.

Law enforcement and District Attorneys held a press conference Tuesday to bring awareness to what they call a public safety issue.

Bill Lindsay, the traffic safety resource prosecutor in the state Office of Prosecution Services said these crashes occur because people do not prioritize sleep.

“Sleep affects every part of a person’s life, including health, safety, mood, learning, appearance, relationships and productivity,” Lindsay said in a press release.

Up to 30 million people have a sleep problem that is related to stress, anxiety and depression. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said about 91,000 police-reported crashes each year are the direct result of driver fatigue.

In the past, state lawmakers considers proposed legislation to increase the penalties for someone who is drowsy and driving. However, Barry Matson, with the Alabama District Attorneys Association, said it is difficult to prove in court whether someone was drowsy in a crash.

“That’s why we are choosing to focus on the prevention and education at this time," he said.

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