SAN DIEGO - A new sign was placed on state Route 125 Thursday in honor of a woman killed by a drunken driver and to serve as a warning to other drivers.
About 20 people gathered to unveil the sign, which reads "Don't drink and drive," next to the Mission Gorge Road exit on SR-125. It is meant to honor Pamela Marabeas, who died in a September 2009 crash. The SUV Marabeas was driving when died was brought to the unveiling.
Marabeas was turning left as a 17-year-old girl, who authorities said was drunk and on drugs, crashed into her at a rate of more than 70 mph.
Marabeas' daughter, Erin Limonchi, said, "She was the rock. She was the heart and soul of our family … My biggest concern right away is did she know and did she suffer."
Sgt. Scott Hill of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's Motor Unit responded to the scene. More than three years have passed, but he cannot shake those horrific images.
Hill has been in law enforcement for 28 years and comes off as a professional, but moments like that reveal a softer side.
"As long as I've been doing this and as many accidents -- fatal accidents -- I've been at, you still remember them," Hill told 10News. "They touch us. We're there as law enforcement officers to do our job and investigate it, but it also touches us on a personal note."
Authorities said the crashes and accidents keep happening. Just before the New Year, a police officer nearly lost his life after he was believed to be hit by a drunken driver in the same intersection. In fact, his patrol car landed on top of the cross placed at the scene in memory of Marabeas.
Hill and Limonchi hope the message on her new sign will start to sink in.
"If it can save one life, it was absolutely worth it," Hill added.