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Cook Township family continues quest to make highways safe

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Portable breath testing units are distributed to game commission officers during the recent Southwest Region PA Game Commission conference at the Antiochian Village Conference Center in Bolivar. From left are Tom Fazi, information education supervisor for the game commision, Ken Iwaniec and recipient Seth Mesoras, a Cambria County wildlife conservation officer.
Deborah A. Brehun | Ligonier Echo
Portable breath testing units are distributed to game commission officers during the recent Southwest Region PA Game Commission conference at the Antiochian Village Conference Center in Bolivar. From left are Tom Fazi, information education supervisor for the game commision, Ken Iwaniec and recipient Seth Mesoras, a Cambria County wildlife conservation officer.

Trooper Kenton Iwaniec loved hunting and the outdoors. So it was only fitting that his family direct its most recent donation of 25 portable breath testing units in his honor to area wildlife conservation officers.

The Iwaniec family made the presentation during the Southwest Region PA Game Commission conference at the Antiochian Village in Bolivar. The distribution provided the units to officers in 10 counties, covering 350 square miles.

“As game officers, they enforce all laws of the Commonwealth,” said Brian Singer, a wildlife conservation officer for Westmoreland County. “This is one more tool to make us more efficient and help keep intoxicated drivers off the roadway.”

Tom Fazi, the information education supervisor for the Southwest Region said it was another tool they can use for law enforcement.

“This will give them the ability to stop an impaired driver before they hurt somebody else,” Fazi said.

One by one the trooper's father, Ken, mother, Debby and sister, Acacia Hauck, spoke about impact of the tragic night of March 27, 2008. Iwaniec was killed two miles away from his Avondale station on his drive home from work when an impaired driver crossed the center line hit the driver's side of a pick-up truck and then hit the trooper's vehicle head-on. Iwaniec passed away two hours later in a Delaware hospital.

The Iwaniecs shared the trooper's story to reiterate the dangers of drinking and driving in the hopes of having something positive come out of their tragedy.

“We need you to send the message that driving under the influence is not tolerable,” said Ken Iwaniec. “You need to be able to remove impaired drivers from our gamelands.”

Iwaniec asked the officers at the conference to not be lenient and push the laws they have to the full extent.

“Every driver you stop will save at least one life,” said Iwaniec. “We ask you to make this your passion to remove them from the road.”

Iwaniec explained how The Trooper Kenton Iwaniec Memorial Foundation first got started with a goal to get at least one portable breath testing unit into every police department in the state. To date, they have raised funds to purchase and distribute 500 Breathalyzers, at a cost of nearly $500 each.

In the trial after the accident, Kristina Quercetti of Landenberg was sentenced to 8½ to 17 years in prison for Iwaniec's death and endangering the life of her 4-year-old son who was in her car at the time of the crash. Quercetti's blood alcohol content was four times the legal limit. She also was illegally under the influence of oxycodone.

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or dbrehun@tribweb.com.

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