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Memorial march to mark anniversary of drunk-driving death

Remembering a lost loved one, family and friends will gather at Pelham Parkway South, between Barnes and Wallace avenues, on Saturday, September 20, at 11 a.m. for a memorial march in honor of drunken driving victim Ian Dawson.

The then 19-year-old Pelham Parkway resident died on September 10, 2005, after his friend Robert Polidore’s 1996 Chevy Lumina spun of control at Pelham Parkway and Shore Road. Fellow passenger, John Occhino, was paralyzed in the crash.

Polidore, then 17, admitted to consuming three beers prior to getting behind the wheel that tragic night. On May 16, this past year, the driver was charged with manslaughter in the second degree and sentenced to a maximum of four and a half years behind bars.

  “It’s important for people to become aware,” Ian’s mother, Nancy Dawson, said. “I would like to tell kids how alcohol affects their body and their brain.”

An active member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Dawson urges people to attend the Third Annual Ian Dawson Memorial March to not only see first hand the devastating ramifications of drunken driving, but to also find peace among those who share a similar loss.

“We have a lot of parents who go through this everyday and they don’t know where to go,” Dawson explained. “I want them to come and I want them to share their stories.”

Joe Thompson, president of the 49th Precinct Community Council, said it is events such as the march that remain an integral part of proactive measures to decrease the reoccurrence of such incidents. 

“It’s an awareness of a problem that still exists that people should definitely keep in mind,” he explained. “The more voices that are out there, the more voices that represent the cause, the more people will listen.”

Also convicted of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree, criminally negligent homicide, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, vehicular assault and assault in the second degree, Polidore also made a bold message about the dangers of drunken driving through his sentencing. 

And though Dawson will never see her son graduate college or get married, she has memories that will last a lifetime.

“Ian touched a lot of lives,” his mom recalled. “Everywhere we went people were shaking his hand or patting him on the back.”

Known for his love of baseball, Dawson said in coming years she plans on hosting a fundraiser in memory of her son that would allow interested kids the opportunity to attend baseball camp.

“He was a devoted baseball player. He was going to be a pro,” she said. “He was such an amazing person.”


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