The father of a Montgomery County Police officer struck and killed by a drunken driver almost two years ago spoke at the Montgomery County Police Alcohol Holiday Task Force roll call before officers took to the streets to patrol over a holiday weekend that’s among the deadliest on the country’s roadways.
“I wouldn’t be here tonight if it wasn’t for the tragic and senseless death of my son Officer Noah Leotta at the hands of a reckless and irresponsible, multiple time offender, drunk and drugged driver,” Rich Leotta said Wednesday evening.
Rich Leotta and his family have become a vocal force for tougher drunken driving penalties since his son was killed while working on the same task force.
On Dec. 3, 2015, Luis Reluzco hit and critically injured Officer Leotta, 24, as Leotta worked a DUI patrol. He had pulled over another driver at Rockville Pike and Edmonston Drive in Rockville, Maryland, and was outside of his cruiser when Reluzco smashed into the cruiser and then hit Leotta.
He died from his injuries a week later.
Reluzco drove with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit and with evidence of marijuana and Xanax in his system. He admitted drinking beer and bourbon for about three hours on the date of the crash, police have said.
Moments after getting behind the wheel, Reluzco slammed into Leotta and sideswiped his police cruiser before coming to a stop, never realizing he hit the officer, investigators said.
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Behind a display of pictures of his late son, Rich Leotta spoke to officers from several local law enforcement agencies assembled for the task force Wednesday night.
“I can’t change what happened to my son, but I can try to make certain that it doesn’t happen to anybody else and save lives,” he said.
Lisa Spicknall of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said statistics show Thanksgiving weekend is the deadliest on the roads.
“Over the past four years, drunk driving crashes killed more than 800 people over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, making it the deadliest holiday on our roadways,” she said.
The Task Force will continue its efforts through the New Year’s holiday.