CAMPBELL, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - His mangled bike, bloody clothes, and the debris left behind. Leonard Stevens was 16 years old when he was killed by a drunk driver who left the scene.
That August day in 1979 changed the lives of his parents, Ralph and Grace, forever who believe he would still be alive if he received medical treatment right away considering investigators said he died hours after being hit.
"I know now what they mean when they say the smell of death is very distinct, the smell of blood," Ralph said.
The suspect was found less than 24 hours later and sentenced to just 90 days in jail which they believe he didn't even serve.
When the case was over, they were asked by prosecutors if they wanted the evidence to be destroyed.
"I said, 'Absolutely not. I want it all. We'll put it in our car and take it home,'" Ralph said. "I didn't know what I was going to do, but I knew that I had to do something and make good come of this."
They displayed the items on their car to spread awareness. They also spoke at victim impact panels showing it to audiences hoping to prevent this from happening again.
The couple put up a memorial on Route 415 which they've had to replace six or seven times, they say, because of drunk drivers purposely running it over since drunk driving awareness wasn't appreciated then. Ever since they installed an official county sign right next to it, with help from the sheriff's office, they haven't had any accidents there at the memorial since. And each time the cross was smashed in the past, the suspect was always found.
As age has taken over, they've slowed down with the panels, but they still believe they've left a lasting impact.
"We know that we've made a difference just by the reaction of the people as they're leaving and how they react to us," Stevens said.
The couple has been together for 60 years. Although they'll never know for sure how many lives they've saved exactly, they're confident in the work they've done.
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