Hundreds gather at vigil for father killed by suspected DUI driver

TACOMA, Wash. -- Hundreds joined friends and family in Tacoma to remember a young father who was killed during a weekend crash police say was likely caused by a drunk driver.

Caire Cotton, 24, leaves behind two young children and a heartbroken family. His mother now lives with a new determination to put an end to impaired driving.

“Some may not understand Father God the reason you took my son away,” said Caire’s father, Coby Cotton, during Tuesday’s vigil. “But I see the beauty of it right here, right now.”

Family and friends of Caire gathered at Tacoma’s Jack Hyde Park along Puget Sound to share prayers and stories for a young man taken too soon.

More than two hundred people shared hugs and tears. The sheer number of people who Caire touched in his short life amazed his mother.

“At 24 years old it still amazes me,” said Candace Frazier. “Actually, so amazed to see so many people here. I would have thought a lot but not like this.”

Cotton was killed last weekend when police say a drunk driver slammed into his parked motorcycle on I-5 in Tacoma. Investigators believe the person responsible was twice the legal limit.

“My life literally changed overnight because of a drunk driver,” said Frazier. “My purpose and my why has also changed.”

Since January, serious and fatal crashes connected to drugged or drunk driving continue to mount across Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.

In 2019 the Washington State Department of Transportation says there have been more than 234 alcohol or drug related crashes across our state. Last year saw more than 480.

“I believe the biggest public safety issue that we have on our streets right now,” said Mark Medalen from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission in a January interview with Q13 News.

Two years ago, lawmakers in Olympia passed a law that turned a person’s fourth DUI charge in ten-years-time a felony.

But during the last legislative session, both chambers failed to come to an agreement on how to close a loophole that for now allows DUIs more than ten years old to not impact a repeat DUI driver’s sentencing.

“It takes everybody working together to change that behavior,” said Medalen. “Most people do the right thing behind the wheel.”

But impaired driving is a seemingly never-ending problem that has become a crisis for Caire’s family.

“It’s something that I hadn’t paid attention to and it’s opened my eyes,” said Frazier.

Tuesday’s vigil stirred emotions for those who knew Caire best. Now his family promises to focus their work on making sure DUI offenders don’t have a chance to tear other families apart.

“The laws for drunk driving are nowhere near what they are in some places and it needs to change,” said Frazier. “It absolutely needs to change, it has to.”