STOCKTON, California — A day doesn't go by that Barbie Little of Stockton doesn't think about her 18-year-old daughter, Destanee Little, who was killed by a drunk driver 11 years ago.
"I want to be here. I want to keep her memory alive. I want to talk about her," Little said.
Her daughter was a graduate of Stagg High School, and was attending San Joaquin Delta College with a goal of becoming a police officer.
"She was absolutely the daughter everyone would want. She was very active in school," Little said.
For Little, everything changed on June 12, 2010.
Her daughter was driving home from Lodi with her boyfriend and friend at the intersection of West Lane and Armstrong Road around 11:30 p.m.
She was driving a 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme when she was suddenly struck from behind by a sedan. The Cutlass struck a utility pole, leaving the car a mangled hunk of metal.
Destanee died at the scene.
Her boyfriend and friend were severely hurt but survived.
29-year-old Benjamin Serratos was convicted of second degree murder as well as gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
He was sentenced to life with possibility of parole.
He already had a strike on his record after serving three years in state prison from 1999 to 2002 in San Joaquin County for mayhem, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
"As parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends, everybody lost her," Little said.
On Thursday, she continued her crusade to remind everyone not to drink and drive on what is anticipated to be a very busy holiday weekend on the roads.
This year, New Year's Eve falls on a weekend.
At the Stockton CHP office, San Joaquin County law enforcement stood in solidarity to warn people not to get behind the wheel while drunk or using narcotics and to avoid driving aggressively.
"You choose to do that. And, as such when you do so, you risk and endanger the life of everybody in our community," said San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar.
According to the Stockton Police Department, 10 people have died in crashes in 2021 where alcohol was determined to be a factor.
It was noted DUI accidents have increased over the past two years.
"Some people may be feeling the stress of COVID. They may have other issues in their communities, or they may be making that poor choice to get behind the wheel impaired," said Josh Ehlers, assistant chief of the CHP Valley Division.
Either way, Barbie Little's message on behalf of her daughter is clear: "Be a hero. Be a designated driver."
According to the CHP, if you are charged with a DUI, it will cost you $10,000 and even more when you add in insurance cost increases, court costs, property damage and more.
The maximum enforcement period for the CHP begins Friday evening at 6:01 p.m. and continues until midnight Sunday.