By: Alicia Turner | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 5, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A marker that reads “Drive Safely” sits at the place where 8-year-old Ronshay Dugans was tragically killed.
"The pain I felt, it was the worse thing I've been through in my family," said Ronshay’s brother, James West.
Her aunt Josie West explained that despite the time that’s passed, "It seems like it was just yesterday."
But, in fact, it was 10 years ago. The crash happened on Capital Circle SE at the intersection of Orange Avenue. At the time, investigators combed the scene for hours trying to determine the cause. Later, authorities found out it was a drowsy driver in a cement truck that smashed into the back of the school bus Ronshay was riding in.
"Someone's life was changed. Our family was changed because someone did not get rest," Josie said.
On Wednesday, Ronshay’s family told stories of how she would have been graduating from high school this year; with thoughts of those her age now crossing the stage. Ronshay’s family is continuing their pledge in her absence to turn their pain into progress.
Ronshay’s uncle, Perry West, had this to say when reminiscing over what the last 10 years have been like for his family, "It has always been my desire to make sure no one else would pay that cost."
In 2010, Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed the Ronshay Dugans Act. It declared the first week in September as “Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.”
"To save another person and to prevent another person from going through the same thing we went through; that's where I can find the peace, joy and strength to keep going every September 5th," James said.
Flowers now wrap around Ronshay’s memorial marker. While they may wilt, her family says her memory never will. A beam of sunshine as they call her, gone too soon.
Government numbers show nearly 100,000 crashes a year involve drowsy drivers, leading to more than 1,500 deaths. Another survey shows 50 percent of drivers admit to driving drowsy, and 20 percent admit to actually falling asleep at the wheel.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles suggests that if your eyelids are heavy, that’s the first sign to know you may need to pull over. Other suggestions to prevent drowsy driving include stopping every 100 miles, traveling with a buddy and if you’re feeling tired, simply pull over.