Ashley Nelson, a Cal State Fullerton business student and Alpha Chi Omega member, was killed in November 2007 in a drunk driving accident.
Her memory still lives on today through her parents and the Cal State Fullerton University Police, who honored two officers with the Ashley Nelson award for the first time Wednesday.
Two University Police officers were recognized for their efforts against driving under the influence. The two officers, Karlton Bridgewaters and Steve Nelson, were honored with the award for having the most DUI arrests in 2012 and 2013.
Capt. John Brockie of University Police said there are three goals associated with the Ashley Nelson award.
“First was to honor all the members of the Titan family killed due to an impaired driver,” Brockie said. “Second, educate and remind the community of impaired driving, and third, recognize the passion and resolve of the Cal State Fullerton Police Department to remove impaired drivers from the roadway.”
Bridgewaters received the Ashley Nelson award for making 37 DUI arrests in 2012. Steve Nelson was honored for the 38 DUI arrests he made in 2013.
“My main goal is to keep the people in the community safe,” Bridgewaters said.
The officers received a blue and red pin with the initials A.N. in gold in memory of Ashley Nelson. Blue represents the University Police and the color red commemorates Ashley Nelson.
“It’s so difficult to tell you about the fire that was in her heart,” said John Nelson, who shared memories of his daughter. “The joy that she brought to every gathering, her personality that was much bigger than this room.”
John Nelson, showed his family’s gratitude towards the officers. “You guys are the last ones there to take that drunk driver off the road,” he said.
“It’s a life saved in every arrest,” said Vicky Macia, a victim’s advocate with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Macia presented MADD’s Deuce Award to Steve Nelson. The Deuce Award is presented to those who have arrested at least 25 or more individuals who were driving under the influence and for every 25 increments up to 100 after.
With 15 years of experience in his field, Brockie said there has been a societal change, especially in Orange County, that people no longer consider drunk driving to be acceptable.
Brockie attributes the high amount of DUI arrests in California to the fact that officers are doing their job.
“It’s a telling number that the police are out there working but it’s unfortunate that it’s that high,” he said. “Where we do start to decline because there areless impaired drivers?”
Sen. Lou Correa told the audience they have an individual responsibility to stand up against driving under the influence by taking away keys from others who have had too much to drink.
“This is one of those events that reminds us of the great challenges that we have in society,” Correa said.
Corporal Patrick Launi and Lieutenant Scot Willey also received rewards for their hard work in establishing the Ashley Nelson award, designing the pin and plaque, as well as helping to organize the event.
Launi received University Police’s “Distinguished Service Award” and Willey received the “Exceptional Performance” award.
“It’s the police department as a whole,” Brockie said. “It goes to show you that being a leader has nothing to do with rank.”
Closing with a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, John Nelson reflected on the future his daughter might have had.
“Officers protect our might have beens,” John Nelson said.