Teaming up for a common cause

Kyle Sizemore loved baseball, riding bikes, playing guitar and was always surrounded by friends.

On March 8, 2005, Sizemore jumped into his friend’s Ford Escort along with two others. The driver, Joseph McCann, under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, pulled out of his driveway in front of a Jeep Cherokee. The t-bone collision hit where Sizemore was sitting and the North Kitsap High School junior died at Harborview Medical Center six days later.

Eighteen Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies hit the roads hard on the night of July 21 in honor of Sizemore.

Kitsap County and Pierce County traffic safety task forces teamed up last Saturday night for a traffic safety emphasis patrol involving 33 officers from 13 law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement officials arrested 18 motorists on suspicion of impaired driving and made four other alcohol- and drug-related arrests.

“We go out there to save lives and to keep the roads safe for the citizens,” said Carolyn Pence, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Safety Task Force coordinator.

When they stopped vehicles, Kitsap County deputies distributed flyers depicting Sizemore’s story and photographs. Members of the traffic safety task forces hope hearing the tragic story of Sizemore’s death will encourage drivers to make better decisions on the roads.

“The majority of fatal collisions in Pierce and Kitsap counties are alcohol- or drug-related,” said Mike Davis, Gig Harbor Police chief and chair of the Tacoma Pierce County DUI Task Force.

Kitsap County deputies arrested six while Pierce County arrested 12 impaired motorists last Saturday night. Pierce County deputies dedicated their patrol to Timothy Irvin, another teenage victim of a collision caused by impaired driving in 1987.

“It’s nice to get the two agencies to work together for a common cause,” Pence said. “It was a little more work (making flyers) but that’s OK.”

Law enforcement also took special measures to ensure that liquor was not sold or served to anyone younger than 21 years of age. Four liquor control agents checked more than 150 personal identifications and 35 bars, taverns and convenience stores where liquor is sold. They found no violations during the emphasis patrol July 21.

Pence said she enjoyed working with the Pierce County Traffic Safety Task Force and plans to make the traffic safety emphasis patrol an annual event.

“I know we will do another bridge-to-bridge-to-bridge emphasis patrol with Pierce County,” she said. “We want to make it an annual event.”

KCSO regularly does emphasis patrols and Pence hopes to utilize Pierce County’s idea and dedicate more patrols to victims of impaired driving.

“We can always get ideas from each other,” Pence said.

In December 2005, McCann was sentenced to 34 months in prison for vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. He also was ordered to pay more than $304,000 in restitution.

Since Sizemore’s death, his family has established a scholarship in his name with the North Kitsap Education Foundation that will pay for traffic safety education for low income students. The Kyle Sizemore Memorial Baseball/Fastpitch tournament is hosted annually to support the scholarship program. Sizemore’s mother, Nora, is an active member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) of Kitsap County and speaks at court-ordered victim impact panels.

“One night can change a family’s life forever,” Davis said.

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