Drunk Driving Victim's Mother Speaks Out

August 2, 2011 Updated Aug 2, 2011 at 6:41 PM EDT

By Jennifer Stanonis

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August 2, 2011 Updated Aug 2, 2011 at 6:41 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) -- Losing a child because of a drunk driver is something Linda Hoerner never wants someone else to have to go through. Linda lost her daughter, 18 year old Erika Paige Hoerner, in a single car accident on the Kensington Expressway in Buffalo back in February. "Erika's birthday is August 4th, in two days. She would've been 19," Linda said. "I just woke up the other day and thought I can't believe my daughter didn't even make it to 19."

21 year old Brigid Walsh was driving that car drunk and crashed. Erika was thrown from the vehicle and killed. Walsh was charged with DWI and vehicular manslaughter. She was recently found guilty and sentenced to 6 months at the Erie County Holding Center to serve on weekends. It's a sentence the victim's family says wasn't harsh enough. "We still can't believe that's all she got... the fact that she killed someone, she was speeding, drinking, and drugging, I think she deserved to get at least a 3 to 5 {year} sentence," Linda said. "6 months of weekends, 5 years probation for killing Erika, how sad that was, that that's all her life was worth. We've been given a life sentence to live without Erika forever. Erika wasn't driving, Briged took the responsibility to drive that night, she offered three people a ride knowing that she had been drinking and drugging all night... it was a deadly error on her part to do that and it changed our whole life. I lost my whole past, my whole future with my daughter gone, she was my only child."

Linda says the justice system needs to be harsher on drunk drivers and believes that's when people will take drinking and driving more seriously. "I think they need to be more consistent in the manslaughter DWI cases. They need to come down harder," Linda said. "I'm just hoping that if we can even just reach out to one kid, won't drink and drive... you need to talk to your children all the time about drinking and driving."

Erika graduated from West Seneca East High School with honors and was very artistic. She was in the Fashion and Merchandise Program at Buffalo State. Her mother says a friend in the same program wants to start a label in Erika's name. There are also several scholarships set up through Buffalo State and at high schools in Erika's memory. "She'll go on in other ways," Linda said. "We put together a memorial garden, I have wonderful memories of Erika, I love coming out to my backyard... I can look out and see her angle and talk to her. I come out at night and I talk to her. No parent should have to go through this."