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Alcohol related fatalities are up in Montana

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Jan 02 2013 06:44:21 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 02 2013 06:47:11 PM MST

Montana Highway Patrol issues two year report.

MISSOULA, Mont. -

Alcohol related fatalities are up in Montana.

Those are statistics from a Montana Highway Patrol report on crash fatalities.

MHP released comprehensive data on everything from alcohol, speed and seat belts to urban, rural and secondary roads.

In 2011, out of 44 alcohol related crashes in Montana, there were 50 fatalities.

In 2012, there were 52 drunk driving crashes, resulting in 56 deaths.

So 6 more people died in drunk driving wrecks in 2012 than in 2011.

"The big thing is deterrence," said  Captain Jim Kitchin from MHP's Missoula office.

The District one  commander said, "we need to get more troopers on the road when we can. Deterrence is the main thing."

The most recent example is a billboard that went up in Missoula on New Years Eve day.

It features an MHP trooper, two city police officers and two county deputies.

The billboard asks, "Going out tonight? We are."

Kitchin said public service announcements seem to help.

He said the statistics show more crashes occur in nicer weather.

"Springtime comes in," said Kitchin,"gas prices are down. More people are traveling, people get out and they start having fun, you get more traffic."

The captain would love nothing better than to see drunk driving and drunk driving crashes disappear.

Cassie Gruebele  examines the numbers from the highway patrol report.

"My baby's in there," said Gruebele.

Joshua Gruebele was a passenger killed in a drunk driving crash in Missoula in 2012.

His mom pours over 18 years of pictures.

"I think that the drinking culture in this town," said Gruebele, "in this state, is a problem."

In November, she celebrated what would have been her son's 19th birthday.

To read Montana Highway Patrol's report on 2012 fatalities, click here.