Northway crash victims remembered on second anniversary

Chris Stewart's vehicle after the crash.

ALTAMONT, N.Y. – Two local programs joined together Monday at Beacon of Hope in Altamont to honor all young lives lost to DWI in the Capital Region.

Monday’s “Remembrance Day,” was hosted by the Albany County STOP-DWI and Choices 301 Inc.

Monday, December 1, is also the second anniversary of the tragic Northway crash that killed Shenendehowa High School student’s Christopher Stewart and Deanna Rivers, and injured two others, Matt Hardy, and Bailey Wind, a Shaker High School student.

Dennis Drue, 23, pleaded guilty to 58 counts in September 2013, only a few days before his trial for causing the crash was set to begin. He was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison.

When Drue pleaded guilty, the judge asked Drue if he caused the death of two Shen students, he replied “yes.” Drue also admitted he was high on marijuana and speeding at the time of the crash.

“We can’t just forget DWI. This is an epidemic,” said Ed Frank, Director of Choices 301.

One way Frank has been able to get the message of safe driving through to young drivers is the Beacon of Hope program. It’s a place where students and community can see the negative impacts of poor choices.

“The young people that come through here on field trips will see the choices and consequences of making those choices,” said Frank.

The parents of Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers attended the event to show their support for Choices 301.

“If school kids do come through here, hopefully they learn a lesson and make the right choices going forward,” said Brian Rivers, Deanna’s father.

Chris Stewart’s parents have also decided to have their son’s car on display at the Beacon of Hope to send a strong message.

“We didn’t want to have it crushed. We had no idea where we were going to put it. Fortunately for us, Ed allowed us to have it here. We really think it’s going to be a tremendous visual for so many of the students that come through this program because it’s a real eye opener when you see it,” said Regina Stewart.

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