HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- For the last 21 years, Cpl. Craig Jones with Henrico County Police has been making our byways and highways safer. And for the last six years, the 43-year-old officer’s specialty has been removing impaired drivers from the road.
“Lately we’ve noticed that the alcohol is going down and the drug use is going up,”Jones explained.
The corporal, who is Henrico’s senior member of a five-person Crash Team and lead DUI Instructor, said he has lost track of how many fatal crashes he has investigated.
“Not everything prepares me for what I see when I step out of the car,” Jones said. “Statistics say that you drive impaired 80 times before you get caught the first time.”
Jones said drunk and drugged drivers are a scourge on society. In fact, last year 272 people died in Virginia in alcohol-related crashes. Across the country, one person dies every 52 minutes because of drunk or drugged driving.
“The longer I do this job, the scarier it gets to go back and see just how many people are out there driving impaired,” Jones said.
And often times it is Jones who notifies the victim’s loved ones.
“It is very difficult. It is very difficult,” Jones explained. “Then I start to think about it back on me. What if that did happen to me? It makes it that much harder on me to think of my own family... what these families and victims are going through.”
Carter Hill Sr. is a volunteer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
“What would we do without people like him,” Hill said. “He is extraordinary, I can tell you that right now.”
Carter’s life changed forever on March 21, 1997. That is when his 20-year-old son, Carter Hill Jr., was killed by a drunk driver in Hanover County.
“It was probably the worst day of my life,” Hill remembered. “If I lost everything I own, it wouldn’t be as bad as losing my son.”
Carter said Jones is preventing other families from experiencing what he shoulders every day.
“There are people out there that really care and really want to make a difference. They’re out there and he is one of them,” Hill said. “Thank God for them.”
The married father was recently honored by MADD at their annual Law Enforcement Recognition Awards ceremony.
A few years ago, Jones racked up the most arrests of impaired drivers in our region.
MADD’s Cristi Cousins said the officer’s tireless work year in and year out work is saving lives.
“It is just that kind of commitment that Craig is a part of that means the world to us and it means the world to our victims too,” Cousins said. “He is not out caring if you have a taillight out he is out there trying to get impaired drivers off the road for our safety. So I think we are lucky in the community to have officers like him."
Jones said impaired drivers should think before they get behind the wheel or else they may pay the consequences in court or with their or someone else’s life.
“The motivation to try and prevent these crashes from happening, and to educate the public and educate anyone I can educate based on the information and knowledge I have, is what drives me every day to go to work,” Jones explained.
Jones raises money for MADD at their annual walks and even through the sale of Brunswick stew. For his birthday recently he asked loved ones not to give him presents, but donate to the non-profit.