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

After drunk driving-related death, local family embarks on 131-mile run to raise awareness
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 they want to see in the world.

"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 toward 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," Rytman said. "That's what Mike and I are going to try and do today, is cause some ripples." 

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 with blood alcohol levels two to three times over the legal limit.

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

Related Weblinks:
Route to Madison

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