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After drunk driving-related death, local family embarks on 131 mile run to raise awareness Submitted: 09/21/2017

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PORTAGE COUNTY - A crash in Portage County this summer tore apart a family. On July 8, a repeat drunk driver crossed the centerline and hit a motorcycle in the Town of Alban.

Now, a memorial on Highway 49 stands in memory of 48-year-old Robert Korhonen.


"Rob is never walking back into his door again. A perfectly healthy fun loving guy who loved his wife, his kids, his grandchildren...he's gone," said family friend Kathleen Rytman. 

The driver who hit Korhonen had a blood alcohol level of .30. Korhonen's daughter, 25-year-old Stacey Zarda was airlifted to a hospital.

"It is a miracle how far Stacey is today and she continues to get better," said Lexi Witt, a family member. "She is a strong, strong girl."

Now, the crash site where the life of a father, a husband, and a grandfather ended is one that symbolizes a new beginning.

"I'm [going] to run it and try to turn a family tragedy into something positive," said Rytman. 

Rytman and Witt are running from the crash site in the Town of Alban to the State Capitol. The family friends plan to finish the 131 mile journey by Saturday.

"I don't want Rob to be another statistic or another life lost on the highways in Wisconsin due to drunk driving," said Rytman. 

"Their lives have been devastated. It's really frustrating and it happens every week to people," said Witt. 

Kathleen and Michael hope the long journey encourages lawmakers to make drunk driving laws stronger. But also, to help others step up and be the change.

"If you see somebody and think they may have indulged a little much, make sure they have a ride home or ask them how they're getting home. Take their keys away," said Rytman. 

This journey may be a long one. But the change this family is heading towards is something that will keep them going.

"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water and cause many ripples. That's what Mike and I are going to try and do today -- is cause some ripples," said Rytman. 

The family sent letters to state representatives asking them to make drunk driving laws stricter. They want repeat offenders to face harsher sentences as well as those two to three times over the legal limit.

Clink on the link below to see the route map Rytman and Witt will follow.  


Related Weblinks:
Route to Madison

Story By: Allie Herrera

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You can check out thousands of books from the Rhinelander District Library, but you do need to return them.  Now, the library hopes you stop by to take and keep one of the most important documents in our nation's history.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 09/21/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll tell you why the Northwoods Transit Connection which provides transportation in Oneida and Vilas Counties may discontinue some operations temporarily.

We'll bring you the details of a Rhinelander swimming coach who has resigned from her position after her third year as head coach for the girls and boys team.

And we talk to a group of people who are walking from Portage County to Madison to help bring awareness to the dangers of drinking and driving after a motorcyclist was killed by a drunk driver in July.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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