Family speaks out after suspected drunk driver kills a Plainview woman

Published: Oct. 12, 2009 at 11:52 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 14, 2014 at 11:39 PM CST
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PLAINVIEW, TX (KCBD) -After a young Plainview woman is killed by a suspected drunk driver, her family speaks out.

DPS says a pickup truck driven by Jimmy Scott Barnhill of Midland, was headed the wrong way on I-27, just south of Hale Center, around 3:50 Sunday morning. Barnhill's truck hit a SUV head on, killing the driver, 21-year-old Ashleah Richards.

Ashleah's parents say she always put others first. Just a few weeks after her 21st birthday she offered to be the designated driver for her friends Saturday night, but no one ever dreamed her responsibility would result in her death. "I know where Ashleah is at and we grieve, we grieve because we miss her, but we are celebrating her life as well," said Ashleah's father Mark Richards.

On Sunday, Mark and Lorraine Richards lost a daughter.  Ashleah's sister and brother lost a friend. On Saturday night, Ashleah and her four girlfriends went out for a fun evening. "My baby was such a giving and loving person, she just wanted all her friends to be safe," said Ashleah's mom Lorraine Richards.

But on their way back to Plainview, a pickup truck, driven by 48-year-old Jimmy Barnhill, was heading the wrong way on I-27, just south of Hale Center. He hit the five women head on. Ashleah was pronounced dead at the scene, the other four women had minor injuries. DPS took a blood sample from Barnhill and alcohol was found at the scene.

Although the family believes Ashleah is the victim of a drunk driver, DPS emphasizes that no such allegation has yet been proven.

"It wasn't her time," said Mark.

The family says the act of drinking and driving is completely preventable. "We watch people that get inside of a vehicle and drive off that has been drinking and we don't say anything when's it going to stop," said Mark.

The family is in the process of setting up a memorial fund in Ashleah's name.

There will be a memorial service in Plainview this Thursday at 10 a.m. at the New Life Church. A funeral will follow in Portales, New Mexico at 3 p.m. (central time) at the Church of Christ.

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