Funding grant maintains Hamilton County's Fatal Alcohol Crash Team

Indiana alcoholic beverage distributors donate $30,000 to Hamilton County

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. - Hamilton County's Fatal Alcohol Crash Team (FACT) will remain in operation through 2008, thanks to a $30,000 grant from three Indiana alcoholic beverage distributors: National Wine and Spirits, Olinger Distributing and Monarch Beverage Company. Company representatives presented the grant to Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp and FACT staff on Monday, Nov. 19.

A $58,000 shortfall earlier this year forced FACT to seek funding from other resources or end the program. Since 2005, FACT has worked with law enforcement agencies in Hamilton County to determine if alcohol or drugs were involved in traffic accidents. FACT members conduct extensive investigations at the crash scene, including detailed photography and measurements. All evidence is gathered and individuals involved in the crash are interviewed to determine if criminal charges are warranted.

"This generous donation by National Wine and Spirits, Olinger and Monarch enables FACT to continue to bring the highest standards of investigation and response to accidents where drivers may have been impaired with alcohol or drugs," said Leerkamp.

Keeping FACT in operation aligns with the distributors' commitment to the responsible use of alcohol, said Jim Purucker, executive director of Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Indiana (WSWI). The state-mandated, not-for-profit trade association serves as Indiana's alcohol import manager and represents National Wine and Spirits and Olinger.

"We had a unique opportunity to help the Hamilton County law enforcement agencies with this valuable program that has a 100 percent conviction rate of impaired drivers involved in accidents in Hamilton County," said Purucker.

FACT Coordinator, Lt. Troy Fettinger, Fishers Police Department, said maintaining the program offers continued support to local law enforcement.

"By bringing in highly specialized and trained crash-scene investigators, we are able to get more convictions, and that keeps impaired drivers off the roads," said Fettinger.

Beth Gehlhausen, coordinator of SNAP, a Hamilton County program dedicated to increasing awareness about teen-age alcohol and drug use and prevention methods, commends National, Olinger, and Monarch for providing the funds to keep FACT in operation.

"The grant donated by National, Olinger and Monarch is another step in the right direction toward safer, sober roads in our state," Gehlhausen said. "Whether this grant helps FACT and Hamilton County law enforcement bring justice for one individual or dozens who are injured or killed by drunk drivers, it will more than pay for itself in the value it brings to those lives."

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 Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Indiana encourages a responsible alcohol market by solely servicing licensed retailers.


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