Cousin of DUI Crash Victim Distributes Red Ribbons for MADD

Russell Tai Hook
Russell Tai Hook

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- The holiday season is the time of year when road travel and traffic fatalities traditionally increase. So on Tuesday, Mothers Against Drunk Driving launched its "Tie One On For Safety" campaign.

With a bright smile, Russell Tai Hook hands out ribbons for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

"Drive safely during the holidays," he told people on Keeaumoku Street.

His smile disappeared in June 1996, when his 17-year-old cousin died in a drunken driving crash following a graduation party.

Jason Keo was a football standout at Kahuku High School, and was offered a full scholarship to play at BYU in Provo.

"He was a good kid. He was a very good kid," said Tai Hook. "But just because of two wrong choices, he chose to drink and get behind the wheel."

MADD Hawaii plans to distribute more than 300,000 ribbons and magnets to put on cars during the holidays and into the new year.

The group also wants the state Legislature to approve a device called Ignition Interlock for those convicted of DUI.

"If it detects alcohol on your breath above a certain level, it simply won't let the car start," Arkie Koehl, MADD public policy chair, said.

MADD says 52% of the traffic deaths in Hawaii last year involved alcohol, the worst rate in the nation.

"We've been giving this (don't drink and drive) message for years," Koehl said. "And we've come to a point where people don't seem to be listening any more."

Tai Hook hopes drivers will prove that statement wrong.

The campaign urges people to put red ribbons on their cars as a pledge to drive safe and sober, and to remind others to do the same.