UPDATE 3/20/12 @ 6:30 p.m.
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Friends and family of Andrea Bailes, a teen who was killed by a drunk driver, have been pushing for a new law to stiffen the penalties for those who drink and drive.
The House bill that would have been “Andrea's Law” did not make it through the previous legislative session, but friends and family of the teenager say they aren't giving up.
"That was the baby of the family and the only girl. That was our baby sister,” Andrea’s brother Trenton Bailes said.
Andrea was tragically killed last November after Steve Stover, a man with a history of drunk driving, got behind the wheel one more time. Stover also killed himself and hurt two others.
"I think we've learned to cherish what we have and never forget," friend Katherine Deem said.
Friends and family want more than just Andrea's memory. They want a law in her name.
"Now the big complaint is prison overcrowding, but it's one of those things where you've got to do what's right," Putnam County Delegate Brian Savilla said.
On Tuesday, the message was clear; it can't happen without the kids. Three of Andrea's closest friends stood up in front of the student body, hoping to put the law in writing.
"I really hope that today will make an impact on the delegates' decisions," Deem said.
"That’s what she wanted to do when she got older. She wanted to become a vet or a nurse. It was just, she always wanted to help someone," Trenton said.
In her honor, a blossoming tree was planted outside of the school.
"We've got to keep this in our hearts and our minds and not let this die," Savilla said.
The tree represents Andrea's roots and a young life never forgotten.
Savilla says the bill can be put into a study session over the summer and in interim until next year's session.
Del. Brian Savilla (R-Putnam) is the lead sponsor of “Andrea’s Law,” which is named for Andrea Bailes. She was killed Nov. 18 by a drunk driver in the Guyandotte area of Huntington, Cabell County Sheriff’s deputies say.
The bill has five sponsors and calls for several changes to existing laws, including the following:
"I feel that if I don't do something, or something is not done, you're just not doing what's best for her now," says Deana Spaulding, Andrea’s mother.
Spaulding approached Savilla about working on the bill.
"Someone like my daughter has to lose her life for someone to understand that it's not OK for someone to be in trouble with the law for the same thing over and over and over," Spaulding says.
Savilla says the state’s DUI penalties are overdue to be overhauled.
"The way they look at DUIs is almost a joke," Savilla says. "You're driving on the main roads and (putting) everybody's life at risk."
Jennifer Rollins, a mother of two, knows she was lucky to be alive after a repeat drunk driver hit her.
But, more than a year later, she's still struggling even to remember things.
"I have to rely on my 9-year-old little girl if it's something I have to do," Rollins says.
She eventually had the chance to face Donny Workman, the man who hit her, during his sentencing hearing.
But, she was in for a surprise.
"I didn't find that out until actually the day of the sentencing. So, I was very upset. They told me it could only be a felony if he would have killed me," says Rollins, who nearly died from her injuries.
If Andrea's Law passes, a case like the one Rollins experienced would become a felony.
"Right now they just see it as, 'Oh, I'll just get a slap on the wrist.' And then they'll just go on," Rollins says.
There also have been discussions this legislative session of trying to get the prison population under control because of overcrowding.
So, Savilla says he expects there could be some pushback from lawmakers concerned about locking up more people for longer periods of time. He says he thinks the seriousness of DUI crimes should outweigh those concerns.
Andrea Bailes, Paul Sheets and his daughter Sami Sheets were headed home on W.Va. Route 2 in Cabell County on Nov. 18. That's when deputies say a man under the influence crossed the center line and slammed into them head-on.
The driver of the other car, Steve Stover, and 14-year-old Andrea Bailes were killed.
Tuesday, a spaghetti fundraiser was held at the New Hope Bible Baptist Church in Point Pleasant to help the Bailes and Sheets families with medical expenses.
Paul Sheets attended the fundraiser.
"I remember everything. We'd been to the movies. We went to McDonalds. I just remember the girls saying it was the best night of their life. Coming away from it and seeing pictures of the wreck, I don't see how any of us survived," Sheets said.
Paul is keeping the faith. He knows he and his daughter Sami are still here for a reason.
"I just remember going up Route 2. The girls were talking on the phone. I told them to call Sami's mom to let her know we were going to be about 10 minutes late. I didn't want her to worry," Sheets said.
However, being late was nothing compared to what she heard on the other end of the line.
"She (Sami) was actually on the phone with her mom when the accident happened. After the accident I just remember her hollering in the background, 'What happened? What happened?' When I got my breath back and was able to talk to her I just told her we were in an accident," Sheets said.
Now, the families and community are working to keep Andrea's memory alive.
"Class isn't the same because you always have that empty seat,” classmate Haleigh Bonecutter said.
"She'll always be in our hearts and minds," classmate Katherine Deem said.
"Andrea's up in heaven looking down on us. She was just like a daughter to me. She really was," Sheets said.
Sheets is working with the insurance company to use to crashed cars as a part of the DARE Program. He hopes to share his story with others about the dangers of drunk driving.
The spaghetti dinner Tuesday raised $2,400. All the money will be split between the Sheets and Bailes families.
The accident happened near Guyandotte a little more than a week ago.
Cabell County Sheriff Tom McComas says Steve Stover crossed the center line on Route 2 and hit Paul Sheets' car head-on.
Stover and 14-year-old Andrea Bailes, who was riding with Sheets, both died.
Sheets and his 12-year-old daughter, Sami Sheets, were injured.
Stover had several previous DUI convictions, and the sheriff says alcohol was likely involved.
Life will never be the same for Sami who is still recovering from that accident, but she is moving on, and was even able to come home from the hospital Sunday.
Welcomed by a cheering crowd, Sami made quite the entrance as she returned to her hometown of Point Pleasant. Dozens with ‘welcome home’ signs in hand lined the streets and cheered as she was driven through town.
“The accident was just so tragic and so hard for everybody. It will be exciting just to have her home here in Point Pleasant again,” Sami’s friend Katherine Deem said.
“She's our Thanksgiving miracle. That's definitely what she is,” Sami’s grandmother Ginny Hall said. “We just want to thank everyone for the prayers, the phone calls and the visits.”
That outpouring of support has made this difficult time a little easier to bear.
“To see a girl keep struggling and hanging on, us adults; we should take lessons from her to keep on,” Randall Randolph from Point Pleasant said.
Inspired by her fight for life, Randolph set up a fund to help Sami and Andrea’s families.
If you’d like to contribute, send donations to:
211 Upper River Road
Gallipolis, OH 45631
Cabell County Sheriff Tom McComas says Steve Stover's pickup truck was traveling south on Route 2 near Guyandotte Friday night when it crossed the center line and hit Paul Sheets' vehicle head-on.
Stover was thrown from his truck and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sheets is from Gallipolis. He and his 12-year-old daughter were injured. 14-year-old Andrea Bailes of Point Pleasant was also riding with Sheets. She was killed on impact.
For friends and family of the Point Pleasant Middle School student, the horrible reality is setting in.
Alexis Meadows says she and Andrea were best friends.
“The moment I found out she'd passed away, I cried and I cried and I cried,” Alexis said. “I wanted to wake up from this nightmare, and then this morning I realized I wasn't going to."
Loved ones who didn't get a chance to say goodbye are turning to social media to pay tribute.
Andrea's Facebook page has been getting posts nonstop this weekend.
Linda Fields wrote "That beautiful smile of yours will always be remembered. You were already a beautiful angel here on earth."
Alexis says Andrea was an accomplished gymnast and loved to play soccer.
"She was amazing,” she said. “She was the strongest person I've ever met. She loved everyone and anyone that she saw."
Teachers and students say it'll be hard going back to school Monday without her there.
"We don't understand it, but it happens,” Andrea’s former teacher Joann Cullen said. “We just have to take comfort knowing God's taking care of her."
It doesn't help that the man responsible shouldn't have been on the road in the first place.
Sheriff McComas says after the accident, alcoholic beverages were found in and around the pickup truck driven by Stover, a 53-year-old from Proctorville.
Stover had several previous DUI convictions and was driving on a suspended license as a result of a DUI, McComas said.
Now Stover's dead, but Andrea's friends say it's no consolation for cutting her life so tragically short.
Law enforcement officials have to wait for toxicology results to confirm whether alcohol was indeed a factor in the accident.
Paul Sheets was in stable condition at St. Mary’s Sunday evening. The condition of his 12-year-old daughter has not been released.
Sheriff Tom McComas tells WSAZ.com Andrea Bailes, 14, of Point Pleasant died in the crash.
Bailes was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Paul Sheets of Gallipolis. The Sheriff says Sheets was traveling North on W.Va. 2 near Huntington about 9:15 p.m. Friday when his vehicle was hit head-on by an oncoming pick-up truck driven by Steven Stover, of Proctorville, Ohio.
Stover was thrown from the truck and died at the scene.
Sheets and his daughter, also a passenger in the vehicle, were seriously injured in the crash. They were both taken to local hospitals but are expected to recover.
Sheriff McComas says Stover was driving on a suspended license for DUI and has several prior DUI arrests on record. A preliminary report shows Stover was driving impaired at the time of the crash. A toxicology report has not been completed at this time.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.
Two people were confirmed dead at the scene, and two others were taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
No names have been released.
UPDATE 11/18/11 @ 10:50 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The crash that killed two people happened when a pickup truck and a car collided head on, Cabell County deputies at the scene tell WSAZ.com.
It happened about 9 p.m. Friday on W.Va. 2 (Ohio River Road) in the Guyandotte area. The scene is near the Tri-State Fire Academy.
Deputies say the fatalities were from both vehicles, and victims were ejected from them.
Two other people were taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
People who live in the area said they knew the accident was bad when they heard the impact.
"I stepped outside and heard like a boom, like that, and then I heard a bunch of sirens after that, and I just took off walking," Brian Lanham said. "I knew there was something big that happened."
We have a crew at the scene.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.
It was reported at 9:03 p.m. Friday and happened just northeast of Guyandotte near an asphalt plant and the Tri-State Fire Academy. The roadway also is known as Ohio River Road.
Multiple vehicles are said to be involved, and W.Va. 2 will be closed for hours, dispatchers say. Motorists are urged to avoid the area.
We have a crew headed to the scene.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.