‘We were living a nightmare’: CT family speaks about the dangers of drunk driving

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — For Jannalynne Gius, it was reliving one of the most horrifying moments of her life.

“It was as if we were living a nightmare,” Gius said.

Gius and her family were in Waterbury for the parole hearing of the man behind bars for driving drunk and hitting and killing her mother, Nancy Lee Salerno, just a few days before Christmas in 2012.

Police said he was driving the wrong way on I-84 in Southington and hit Salerno’s car.

“It was a devastating evening,” Gius said.

Brett Peterman was originally given a 15-year sentence, suspended after seven years, followed by five years probation.

On Wednesday, his parole was denied, drawing this reaction from Gius:

“While I do believe in forgiveness and feel people should not be incarcerated with the key thrown away, too many people are losing their lives to drunk and drugged driving.”

Jennifer Rossi with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Connecticut remembered the incident very well and has helped Salerno’s family cope with it in the years since.

Rossi said MADD Connecticut makes it their mission to engage in annual campaigns to discourage people from driving drunk as the holiday party season gets in gear.

“Through the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, about 50% of all traffic crashes are alcohol-related in some way,” Rossi said.

Gius said her family wanted to speak exclusively to News 8 to drive home the message for people to think twice before going to a party, drinking, then getting behind the wheel.

“Please act responsibly because you don’t know the impact you can have not only on your life but the lives of others,” she said. “We were so looking forward to her retiring and having some more time to spend with us as a family.”

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