Friends remember DUI crash victims with road signs

LANGLEY — Friends of Mick Poynter, Mack Porter and Rob Knight remember the accident. They remember the sorrow after. They also remember the fun they had together prior to the crash the night of Nov. 11, 2011, that took the three young men’s lives. 

Tessa Lynn Chiarizio and Molly Rawls are worried about the coming generations of South Whidbey youth who won’t know the victims of the drunk driving crash on Wilkinson Road. To remind future South End residents, the two seniors at South Whidbey High School are raising $250 to install  “Please don’t drink and drive” signs on each side of the street.

“We were both really close to the boys, and it was something Mick’s mom really wanted done,” Rawls said.

“It’s a constant reminder.”

Six months have passed since a DUI car crash killed three young men on South Whidbey. Poynter 20, Porter, 19, and Knight, 22, were in the car with Kaylea Souza when she made an illegal pass, lost control and smashed the 2003 Chevrolet Malibu into a tree near Meander Lane. The charred tree trunk was still black and glossy from the flames. The ground, however, was covered with cedar chips, recently planted flowers, a granite headstone with an engraved cross, a pictorial and other memorials at the improvised mourning site.

The signs will add to the new look of a devastated corner and possibly help a community mourn, the two students and friends hope. After all, the process of obtaining the permits and purchasing the signs has helped the two girls grieve.

“It’s kind of helped us heal, too, in a way,” Chairizio said. “It’s taken a lot of personal time and energy.”

Raising money and installing the signs is the senior project for both students. The South Whidbey School District, in line with state requirements, requires a senior project in which students spend a minimum of 15 hours of self-directed learning, then present the project to a community panel. Rawls and Chiarizio learned plenty from the experience and will make their presentation May 18.

Roadside signs like that are the domain of whichever government is in charge of the road. On highways, like Highway 525 less than two miles from the crash site, the state is in charge. On Wilkinson Road, it was Island County that approved the signs, but only after the girls received written permission from the victims’ parents.

“I am very proud of Molly and Tessa, they were very close friends of Mick’s,” said Georgiann’e Poynter, Mick’s mother, in an email. “I am honored that they have chosen to do the signs for the boys as their senior project. This is a project from the heart.”

One way the students gather money is by selling window stickers out of their cars and through Facebook. The clings are topped by the words “Forever in our hearts,” with angel wings on each side, the names Mick, Mack and Rob, and the date of the crash, Nov. 11, 2011.

As of May 9, they had raised $110 (at $5 per sticker, plus a couple of cash donations, that’s about 20 clings).

The students were delayed because they had to wait until after Souza’s conviction date, which was in early April.

“We don’t have to get done by May 18,” Rawls said. “It would be really nice to. It’ll get done either way.”

To help fund the signs, visit Post on the page’s wall and Rawls or Chiarizio said they will respond. Donations can also be made to the Tessa Lynn Chiarizio Memorial Fund at any Wells Fargo.

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