28 offenders attend Yates County DWI Victim Impact Panel session

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

The Yates County STOP DWI Program sponsored its annual fall Yates County Drunk/Impaired Driving Victim Impact Panel (VIP), Sept. 15 at the Yates County Office Building auditorium. Yates County holds two panels annually, and this was recognized as the 17th.

Sheriff Ron Spike, who chairs the Task Force VIP said, “Our mission is to have driving under the influence by alcohol or drugs offenders understand the human factor of suffering that impaired driving can cause victims affected by a related crash, and how lives, families and friends are forever altered by a bad choice to drink or take illegal drugs and then drive a vehicle.” All courts in the county in sentencing offenders make attending the panel a condition of the sentence as required by the Vehicle and Traffic law.

Twenty-eight court ordered offenders and some guests appeared for check-in, magnetometer screening, and breath testing by Sheriff’s Deputies, Court Security, and Penn Yan Police Dept. before the panel commenced. Yates County Probation Officers, including Director Sharon Dawes, were also present for registration and assistance at reception. Court Officer Derek Christensen assisted with audio visual equipment. Public Health Director Deb Minor assisted in preparations and evaluations.

Penn Yan Police Chief Mark Hulse issued the rules for the session and security. The STOP programs VIP Coordinator Jenna Owen organized the event and showed a slide presentation with DWI related crash scenes and statistical information on drunk driving. Opening remarks were made by Sheriff Spike and Assistant District Attorney David Mashewske. The evening’s panel speaker was Marianne Angelillo, the married mother of four children from Skaneateles. She presented a heart breaking story she called “Sharing My Stones,” as she lost her 17-year-old- son, Matthew, who was a passenger in a tragic DWI-speeding car crash in 2004, and since then has turned her grief into a campaign of awareness for parents and teens in a courageous effort to prevent similar tragedies. She was recognized in 2013 with the New York State STOP-DWI Community Involvement Award.

The attendees then completed an evaluation form and received a certificate of attendance for their submission to the courts for verification that they attended as ordered. The event lasted about 60 minutes. Sheriff Spike thanked the members of the county task force and Marianne Angelillo for all her synergy in making this VIP a success, noting that the program had scheduled Marianne to speak to Penn Yan Academy juniors and seniors Friday Sept. 16.

“If we can change behaviors and attitudes then good choices will replace bad ones for if not the consequences can be deadly,” Spike said; and concluded that “Marianne’s family victimization is very compelling, and that those in attendance certainly realized how her life and family was forever impacted by drunk driving.”