A renovated Park and Ride lot has reopened under the care of a Lodi mom determined that her brother’s memory will not fade away.
Emily Marino is a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, in honor of her brother Erich Hans Taeger who was killed in a drunk driving accident 12 years ago. The park and ride is dedicated in his name, and is an effort to give back to the community that has helped Marino educate others about the dangers of drunk driving.
“We’re all affected when drunk drivers use public roads, whether it’s Highway 99, Turner Road or out here on I-5,” she said. “I drive with my kids in the car. As a parent, if I knew a drunk driver was on the road with me, I wouldn’t go out there.”
Taeger, 22, was killing time at a bar with friends in Massachusetts before his National Guard unit was due to deploy to Bosnia. He lost track of his designated driver. Instead of calling a cab, Taeger got in the car with a friend who had a few beers in him. The driver lost control of the car and caused it to wrap around a tree. Taeger died on the scene, and the driver died a few days later in a hospital.
Today, Marino dedicates her spare time captaining Team Erich Hans of the Walk Like MADD annual event in Sacramento. The organization is focused on stopping drunk driving and supporting the victims. As a member of MADD, Marino speaks on victim impact panels in Stockton and Sacramento. Volunteering is her way to keep Taeger’s memory alive.
She is thankful for all the donations and help she’s gotten from the community to further her cause. Taking care of the Park and Ride is her way of giving back to the community, she said.
Marino, her husband Anthony Marino, and a group of friends arrived at the Flag City park and ride at 8 a.m. on Saturday. The entrance of the lot is marked with a sign that reads “In memory of Erich Hans Taeger.”
The group donned hard-hats and yellow vests, courtesy of the California Department of Transportation, hoisted garbage bags and cleaned up every scrap they found in the refurbished lot. There were cigarette butts, coffee cups, plastic bags and paper scraps. The strangest find was a worn pair of Ugg boots.
This project is now her responsibility once a month for the next five years. That’s 60 Saturday mornings spent in a parking lot. But Marino says it’s worth it.
“Since the crash happened in Massachusetts, I wanted something in my community to have a connection to him,” she said. “I want people to know his name. Maybe someone will drive by and Google his name. Or maybe they’ll keep driving. But the sign is there.”
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.