‘Walla Walla Walks’ to drive home point

A one-mile walk and 5K run are planned to change the local picture of drinking and driving.

Physical therapist Mark McComas guides Alvarao Lamprea through a series of strengthening exercises.

Physical therapist Mark McComas guides Alvarao Lamprea through a series of strengthening exercises.

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— Alvaro Lamprea never knew what a fighter he was until he had but one leg to stand on.

And with that, he's walking a mile next month in a stand against drunken driving.

The Walla Walla man lost his left leg when a drunken driver plowed into him on July 11, 2010.

"Watch out!" was the last thing Lamprea heard before his universe was sent spinning out of control by a drunken driver.

He was standing on U.S. Highway 97, near Moro, Ore., at 2 a.m. Southbound traffic was stopped, the road ahead blocked as crews cleared the site of an earlier fatal car crash.

Lamprea, 49, was a passenger in a car driven by Cesar Fausto of Walla Walla. The men, along with three children were headed to Bakersfield, Calif. Lamprea decided to approach a truck driver up ahead to see why things were at a standstill.

According to the Oregon State Police report, that's the moment Scott Ekman, 26, from Vancouver, Wash., rear-ended Fausto's Nissan Sentra. Which then pinned Lamprea's leg against the semi truck. Lamprea was flown to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital for surgery.

Ekman, a military veteran, had no auto insurance. He was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants and later sentenced to one year in prison and five years probation. He pays Lamprea $25 a month toward the $300,000 in medical, legal and other costs incurred from the collision.

Lamprea is two years, one coma, several surgeries and one lost leg down the road from that day, and determined to make the most of the second chance he was given, he said.

To that end, the amputee decided to walk - originally across the state of Washington, he said with a laugh. "Unfortunately, I cannot do it just yet, I still have problems with my stump."

He tried to contact Mothers Against Drunk Driving last year to get some advice and counseling, and to broach his idea, Lamprea said. "I called them three, four times and they said they would call me back and they never did."

That made him realize help would have to be home grown, and he connected with the Walla Walla County Traffic Safety Task Force and Walla Walla Area Crime Watch. "So we can help people. People like me when there was no insurance."

The group has already garnered support for Lamprea's vision and is sponsoring "Walla Walla Walks Against Drunk Driving," a one-mile walk and 5K run, with proceeds to drive youth education efforts and financial help for victims of drunk driving.

The event is slated for Sept. 8, beginning at the Walla Walla Public School District parking lot, 364 S. Park St. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., and the race/walk begins at 8:30 a.m. Early registration deadline is Aug. 13; $5 participation fee and $15 gets you the T-shirt on race day. Late registration fee is $10.

Lamprea will be at the College Place Wal-Mart Friday, Saturday and Aug. 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., to answer questions and register participants.

He would love to see the fundraising idea go national someday, he said.

Lamprea does not spend his second roll of the dice being angry at his circumstances or Ekman, he added. "I really hope he got some help. This is not only about people who drink and drive, but maybe veterans from Iraq and Iran. This kid, he made the wrong choice and that's why I am where I am. And people can help their friends, make them see you're not only putting your own life in jeopardy, but the lives of innocent people."

For more information call Nancy McClenny-Walters, coordinator of Walla Walla County Traffic Safety Task Force, at 524-2936.

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