“Please. If there’s anything you took from this, just stop someone. Or if you have done it yourself, stop drinking and driving," a crushed mother, Cherie Banks, said at a vigil for her son, 23-year-old Ian Tahtinen.
It’s an urgent plea from a woman who lost her son just days ago. The man arrested at the scene of the crash that took the life of Tahtinen is suspected of drinking and driving.
“I want people to stop drinking and driving. I wish I could just wave a wand and everyone would just stop, because I wish everyone’s mentality was like mine. That if you drink, you just don’t get behind the wheel,” Banks said.
The crash occurred on Dec. 20, just before 12:30 a.m. on 3 Notch Road in St. Mary’s County.
The sheriff said the man behind the wheel hit Tahtinen from behind. Both cars caught fire, and the other driver was able to get out. Tahtinen did not survive.
“I’m just proud to just say that I was a part of somebody so pure, because he was truly an angel, man, he really was,” Derrick Banks, Tahtinen's stepfather, said at the vigil.
The family got together one week after the crash to show how much Tahtinen was loved. He was on the way home from his job at a convenience store when the crash happened, just 10 minutes away.
“Ian always had that golden heart. No matter what happened to him, I was there for him, he was there for me,” Desmond McDowell, Tahtinen's friend, said.
The suspect is Joseph Swann, who was speeding when he allegedly hit Tahtinen. Swann is charged with assaulting officers during the arrest. Additional charges related to the crash will be filed soon.
“There was excessive speed, also driver error, impaired driving, either by drugs or alcohol or both, potentially,” Sheriff Tim Cameron said.
As New Year’s Eve approaches, Ian’s mother wants people who are celebrating to think twice before they get behind the wheel.
Christmas was Ian’s favorite holiday, and now, his family’s will never be the same.