UNION, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A Clark, N.J. native who was killed by a drunk driver now has a billboard honoring his life.
The big sign on busy Route 22 in Union reads: “In Michael Sot’s memory — be a hero. Be a designated driver.”
Sot was the designated driver for a group of friends at the College of New Jersey in 2018 when their car was hit head on by an alleged drunk driver in Ewing. His mom said that’s the irony of the situation — her 20-year-old son was doing the right thing.
“That’s who Michael was. He was just very responsible. He always took care of people,” Candice Buno-Sot told CBSN New York’s Meg Baker on Tuesday.
His legacy is being recognized by the Hero Campaign.
“Laws alone can’t do it. Police alone can’t do it. The public has to really get involved and designated driving is the thing we are focused on,” chairman Bill Elliott said.
Elliot started the Hero Campaign after his son, John, a naval officer, was killed by a drunk driver in 2000. The group is asking others to take a pledge and become a designated driver.
“I don’t want people to go through this, what I’ve lost, and how I feel, the emptiness,” Buno-Sot said.
The Hero Campaign is looking to expand its partnerships with ride-share companies to offer free rides home from bars, especially holiday weekends.
“It’s so easy to have a designated driver these days, between ride sharing and your friends, loved ones,” Elliott said. “I hate to think of the next family that is going to get knock on the door or a phone call at 4 in the morning like we did saying that our son is gone forever. We can prevent it.”
The Hero Campaign works with high schools, colleges and other organizations to promote responsible choices. It hopes the billboard sends an overt message to drive sober. Sot had his whole life ahead of him.
David Lamar, the 23-year-old driver of the car that crossed a double-yellow line and crashed into Sot’s car, was charged with vehicular homicide.