Knoxville mother pushes for harsher DUI sentencing after son dies in 2017 hit-and-run


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – On a rainy and windy Saturday afternoon, four women tied green flowers to a light post on the Gay Street Bridge.

Those women are the family of Tom Burch, who died on the Gay Street Bridge on Sept. 17, 2017. Burch was the victim of a hit-and-run crash that night.

Mary Clifton, Burch’s mother, said her son wanted to show Jennifer Oulette the view of the bridge at night when they were struck by a drunk driver.

Clifton said she doesn’t want anyone to go through what her family has gone through because someone decided to get behind the wheel after they drank too much.

Clifton has been working with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, trying to increase awareness and create harsher punishments for those convicted of driving under the influence.

Clifton and her family believe Tennessee’s laws for drunk driving are too light and don’t deter people from getting behind the wheel after a few drinks.

“You can’t count how many people are out here, they have license suspended. They still drive, they don’t care. You get pulled over, you get cited for it and you get sent on your way,” Tracye Mathes, Tom Burch’s aunt, said.

Clifton said she couldn’t believe the number of people in Tennessee that had a fifth, sixth or seventh DUI offense.

According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security,

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