After losing brother in crash, woman fights to end drunk driving

After losing brother in crash, woman fights to end drunk driving
BOTHELL, Wash. -- A heartbroken sister is turning the pain of losing a loved one into something powerful and positive.

It's a safe ride home after a night out that can save the life of your son and daughter, your husband and even you. For Carrie Hartwell-Luwchuck a busy Friday night is healing a heart ache that seems to never go away.

"It was the worst day of my life," said Hartwell-Luwchuck.

Eighteen months ago the Bothell woman got a tragic phone call that changed her life.

"It took over everything, " said Hartwell-Luwchuck. "I couldn't function."

The call came all the way from Pennsylvania. It was a family member telling Hartwell-Luwchuck her brother had been killed in a horrific drunk driving accident.

By morning, the Bothell woman was learning about the deadly accident from numerous national news outlets online and on television. That's because Hartwell-Luwchuck's brother, Zac Hartwell, was the passenger inside a car driven by stunt man Ryan Dunn.

Toxicology tests revealed Dunn was intoxicated behind the wheel at the time of the crash. Both Dunn and Zac died in the accident. Thirty-year-old Zac was a producer for the film "Jackass Two," in which Dunn was a cast member.

Dunn posted a picture on his Twitter feed of the two drinking hours before the deadly accident.

"My brother was suppose to have a driver," said Hartwell-Luwchuck. "He should have had a designated driver, a real one, but he didn't."

So now Hartwell-Luwchuck, an escrow officer by day, is a driver of sorts by night all over Western Washington.

"I'll just be designated drivers for people," she said.

It helped the heartbroken sister recover from Zac's death. She got the word out on Facebook, dropped business cards off at local bars and told everyone she knew. Then the ZAC Misson was born. Hartwell-Luwchuck has now become the designated driver her brother never had.

"My brother only needed one person, one person to stop him, one person to say don't get that car, one person to say, let me give you a ride home and nobody did that," she said.

Behind the wheel on a busy night, she takes calls from Bothell, Juanita, Kirkland and Woodenville. Hartwell-Luwchuck is answering her calling: to stop drunk driving fatalities. She drives for anyone who has been drinking.

It's nearly half past 11 p.m. and the night's in full swing. Twenty-three year old Amanda Walker and her boyfriend Collin Yates call for a ride home because their designated driver started drinking.

"Some of our friends have actually had DUIs or have had family members or friends who have been in DUI accidents. So we are trying to do the responsible thing," said Amanda Walker.

The couple heard about The ZAC Mission from a friend.

"It's not worth ruining a families life or your own life," said Collin Yates of Juanita.

And for Hartwell-Luwchuck that's what becoming a designated driver is all about.

"I'm not a cab. I don't charge them, but just because something is free doesn't mean people take advantage of it, I'm grateful," she said.

The nights are long and the gas is expensive. Hartwell-Luwchuck even has volunteers on call if the volume is more than she can handle.

"I want it (The ZAC Mission) to be something that's student run. I want to figure out to put that together so that kids can take care of other kids," she said. Hartwell-Luwchuck's dream is to bring The ZAC Mission to college campus all over the country.

"I'll never know if I helped save somebody. You don't know if a tragedy is averted. You don't know, but in my head I have to believe that somehow one of the rides that I've given has saved somebody," she said.

For now, one call and one ride at a time is healing this sister's broken heart.

For information on the The ZAC Mission is available online.