Residents are furious over an Australian mayor’s drunk driving crash just one hour after she met with the families of drunk driving victims.
Redland City Mayor Karen Williams admitted to drinking “several glasses of wine” before crashing her car into a tree on Thursday night, local outlets reported.
Australia has one of the world’s highest rates of car accidents caused by drunk driving, following the United States, Canada and South Africa, according to the Global Status Report on Road Safety by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015. Alcohol consumption is the key factor in 30 percent of road accident deaths in Australia.
In the United States, the percentage is slightly higher at 31 percent. Last year, as part of a $1 trillion infrastructure package, Congress mandated that automakers implement technology to prevent DUI deaths. In March, Tennessee became the first state to pass a law holding drunk drivers accountable for child support after a parent is killed.
Williams said she made “a serious error of judgment” and was “deeply regretful” after her drunk driving crash. She stepped down from the Brisbane Olympics 2032 board on Sunday. However, she is resisting calls for her resignation.
“I made a mistake, I will learn from that mistake, and I will continue to serve my community as I have for the last 18 years,” she said in a statement to local outlets.
Shortly before the accident, Williams had declared, “We need to clean up the drunk driving,” according to Seven News. She called for tougher youth sentencing, campaigning with the families of a couple who was killed along with their unborn child by an intoxicated teenager in January 2021.
On Thursday afternoon, she hosted a video meeting with the families of drunk driving victims. One of the participants was Judy Lindsay, whose daughter Hayley was killed by a drunk driver 10 years ago.
Lindsay told Seven News the mayor called her on Friday night to apologize about the crash.
In response, Lindsay said, “We trusted you and you let us down…you’re the one supposed to be helping us to raise awareness and you’ve let us all down.”
She is calling for Williams to resign immediately.
So is Redland councilor Paul Bishop, who said on Facebook that his son had witnessed the police and an ambulance arrive “just minutes after an alleged intoxicated driver crossed 4 lanes of traffic and ran off the road into a tree.”
A day later, his son realized it was the mayor “whose reckless choice could have changed both our family’s lives forever,” Bishop said. The councilor condemned Williams’s “illegal and dangerous behaviour [sic].”
Police have not charged Williams and no bystanders were injured in the crash, local news reported.
Newsweek reached out to Williams for comment.