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Mother of Daughter Killed by Drunk Driver Warns Others Not to Drink and Drive

Cathy Sonnier, the mother of late Rachael Sonnier, who transitioned in 2012 when a drunk driver took her life, said the loss of a child is a pain she can never forget.
Posted at 10:49 PM, Nov 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-23 23:49:35-05

Monday marked ten years since the life of 22-year-old Rachael Sonnier was taken by drunk driver, Fred Dutton Jr. on Nov. 21, 2012.

Every November, Rachael's mother, Cathy Sonnier said she relives the moments surrounding her daughter's death, all over again.

Cathy said Dutton Jr. was traveling at a rate of one-hundred and five miles per hour, when he crashed into Rachel's Buick Lacrosse, at the intersection of Kaliste Saloom Road and Rue Louis XIV.

"Rachel was kind, loving, loyal…An awesome mother," Cathy said. "At her memorial service, so many came to us and told us that they were going down a bad path, but Rachael pulled them back from that, which is a pretty awesome testimony for her life."

Cathy describes Rachael as self-less. She said she misses her daughter, her best friend and confidant every, single day.

"Her friends still mourn her like it happened yesterday," Cathy said. "The grief is never-ending. People talk about closure; There’s no such thing as closure. It’s a dark cloud that follows you and sometimes it lets the sun in, but it’s quick to snuff the light out too."

Cathy said since Rachael's passing, life has been bittersweet.

"Weddings were difficult for both of us, after she was killed," Cathy said. "The first wedding he [Mike Sonnier] worked with me, we were standing in the foyer of the hotel watching the ceremony and I glanced over and tears were just rolling down his face."

Cathy said because of Dutton Jr.'s decision to get behind a wheel of a car while intoxicated, she and her husband will never get the chance to see their daughter walk down the aisle.

According to KATC reports, Dutton Jr. bonded out of jail in December 2012, despite being sentenced for vehicular homicide.

Victim Services Specialist, Valerie Cox from Mothers Against Drunk Driving said it is very common for drunk drivers to serve less time in jail than many families feel, they deserve.

"Usually, when a person is sentenced, they are not given anywhere near that time because naturally when someone loses a loved one, they want to see them get life in prison," Cox said. "That’s not going to happen with a vehicular-homicide case in Louisiana."

According to the United States Department of Transportation, every day roughly 32 people die in drunk-driving crashes, which is equivalent to one person every 45 minutes.

"It's hard," Cox said. "Death is already difficult for anyone, but unexpectedly and then when you realize that they died because of the choice that someone made...We do have support groups, we support victims of impaired driving," Cox said.

Cox said there are also advocates willing and available to go to court with victims, dealing with the loss of their loved ones as a result of drunk-driving fatalities or injuries.

According to Cathy, Rachel was killed on impact. Rachel's brother, Steven Sonnier was in the front seat of her vehicle, but survived along with Rachael's then, three-year-old son, Caiden Michael, who was sleeping in the center of the backseat.

Today, Cathy said if she can save just one life, that would make a difference.

"We celebrate her life here," Cathy said. "This is the house she grew up in, this is where she was happiest and she loved corn, so every holiday, we have to have a corn dish."