Free burials offered for those who promise to drink, drive

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- A funeral home director is adopting a strategy to shock motorists into staying sober -- free burial for anyone who signs a pledge to drink and drive on New Year's Eve.

"If I can make one person stop and think, then our effort's not in vain," said Grand Strand Funeral Home and Crematory director Chris Burroughs.

Burroughs, who conducts about 11 funerals every year for people who die in drunken-driving crashes, said he got the idea for the unusual offer from an anti-drunken driving campaign started four years ago.

Then, funeral director Barry Miller initiated Operation Stop and Think after he lost a family member in a drunken-driving accident. Miller, who is from Georgia and owns a funeral home in Tennessee, said about 10 funeral homes in the Southeast are now offering the contract.

Anyone with a driver's license can sign the pledge on New Year's Eve -- though no one does.

"Nobody's ever signed it, nor do we intend for anyone to sign it," Miller said. "Sometimes, you've got to go to extremes for people to take notice."

If the program has any impact at all, it could help reduce drunken-driving fatalities, said trooper Ashley Mew of the state Highway Patrol.

"Any campaign to deter drinking and driving and educating the public on the consequences will help," Mew said.

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