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WESTMINSTER : Drivers Get a Message: Don’t Drink

As cars stopped at a police checkpoint, Paul Miller, 12, hurried over to hand out safety literature and emphasize the tragic consequences of drunken driving.

He spoke from experience. His friend and skateboarding companion Jeff Martinez was killed near the checkpoint a year ago this week.

“I think it’s important for the people driving by to be aware that he was killed by a drunk driver,” Paul said.

Paul was one of a dozen Westminster School District students who helped police staff the safety checkpoint Wednesday on Westminster Boulevard at University Street.

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The students, all members of the DARE Youth Academy, prepared and handed out packets of safety literature and bumper stickers from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Police estimated that about 3,000 motorists were stopped during the duration of the checkpoint.

The information packets included messages from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and a guide for parents and teen-agers about drinking, using drugs and driving. The packets also included a bumper sticker that read, “Remember Jeff,” and included a picture of him as well as messages discouraging people from driving under the influence.

Paul said the checkpoint was an important and positive way to remember Jeff, who was 13 when he was killed. “He was nice and totally funny. He was an appealing guy and everybody liked him,” Paul said.

He also said the checkpoint would save lives. “I’m positive, because it’s going to make people think twice about polishing off a vodka and then driving.”

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Jeff’s parents, Ed and Gail Martinez, watched as the police and youngsters handed out flyers and bumper stickers bearing their son’s image. They said they appreciated the positive work done for the community in their son’s name, but remained angry and saddened a year after his death.

“It’s changed our lives forever. There isn’t a day when we wake up and don’t think about what happened. There’s not a night we go to bed and don’t think about what happened,” Ed Martinez said.

Matthew Thomas Wilbur, 23, is now serving a two-year prison sentence in connection with Jeff’s death. He was convicted of drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter. At the time of Jeff’s death, Wilbur had previously been convicted of drunken driving.

Martinez said he hopes the message to stop drunken driving especially reaches people who believe that drinking and driving “is a God-given right--like the one who killed my son.”

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