Leadership Steamboat class addresses drunken driving | SteamboatToday.com

Leadership Steamboat class addresses drunken driving

— This year’s Leadership Steamboat class has taken on a project that could save lives.

There are 24 people participating in the annual leadership training, which was started in 1992 by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and Colorado Mountain College. The year-long class culminates with a project that gives back to the community.

“This will be our contribution to the community for years going forward,” said student Jim Moylan, a longtime attorney.

Getting a large group of people to decide on a single project is not easy.

The class considered numerous other ideas, including a plan to build a greenhouse at which youth would plant a garden and donate the harvest to LiftUP of Routt County.

The class ultimately decided on developing a program that requires those convicted of driving under the influence to attend a 90-minute meeting at which survivors explain how a drunken driver changed their lives forever.

“If it stops one person from getting into the car after they’ve had too much (it will be worth it),” Moylan said.

One meeting has already been held, and it was attended by eight people.

Steamboat resident Elaine Houck shared the tragic story of how her daughter, Megan Ritter, and her daughter’s boyfriend, Brian Houle, were killed by a drunken driver Nov. 21, 2012, just outside Kremmling on U.S. Highway 40.

David “DJ” Torroni Jr. was 21-years-old when he was sentenced to five years in prison for killing the couple and seriously injuring another person. Torroni was driving home to Summit County after snowboarding on opening day at the Steamboat Ski Area.

“No parent should ever hear that knock on the front door and see an officer and a police chaplain on the front porch to deliver the news that their child will not be arriving the next day for Thanksgiving,” Houck said during Torroni’s sentencing hearing. “Knowing that she will never walk through the door is sickening.”

The Leadership Steamboat class is hopeful Houck’s message is enough to keep more people from driving while intoxicated.

“This is sort of Elaine’s way to give back and work through the pain she has gone through,” Leadership Steamboat student Lisel Petis said.

Steamboat Springs police officer John McCartin will also attend the meetings to talk about drunken driving from a law enforcement perspective.

The class worked closely with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to develop the program.

It also won the support of the District Attorney’s Office, judges, the probation office and defense attorneys.

Moylan has volunteered to facilitate the program for the foreseeable future.

“I am 100-percent behind it,” Moylan said. “I think this is a tremendous thing for the community. I hope we can expand it to Moffat County.”

Leadership Steamboat hopes to raise $2,500 to support the program for the next 10 years.

The fundraiser is called Miscellaneous Antiques Dying to be Discovered and is set for 1 to 4 p.m. May 20 at The Chief Theater. The cost is $10.

Similar to the television show “Antiques Roadshow,” professionals will be on hand to help people appraise their treasures. There will also be a silent auction.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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