WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Tim Leithoff would have turned 41 this year. He was only 25 and working as a tow truck driver when he died from injuries he suffered helping a motorist on Kellogg.
His sister, Annie Glenn, says one woman's poor decision to drive drunk killed him on what has become one of the deadliest weekends of the year, around Thanksgiving.
As they look back on Leithoff's life, his family shares his story in hopes that it can make people celebrating the holidays think twice before trying to drive after drinking.
Glenn says Leithoff was full of life, and a bit of character.
"He did a lot of singing," she says. "He couldn't carry a tune to save his life, but he sure did love doing it."
Leithoff died on Nov. 25, 2004, Thanksgiving Day. He was hanging out with family when he got the call that would forever change their lives.
"He just got a call to tow a stranded motorist because he was on call that day," Glenn say.
Leithoff said goodbye to his family and headed out to Kellogg. There was nothing out of the ordinary, but it would be the last time Leithoff's family would see him alive and well.
"It was like nine o'clock at night when she hit him," Glenn says. "She had been with her family. (She) thought she was okay to drive and her blood-alcohol level was more than double the legal limit."
The impaired woman's vehicle hit Leithoff and the driver he was helping. Leithoff died from his injuries at a local hospital.
The woman who hit them was sentenced to a little more than three years in prison.
"There will always be that empty chair there. It altered our lives forever," Glenn says. "She's been able to go on, but we've been altered."
Glenn says that's now her family's story, but it doesn't have to be anyone else's.
"Most people just think, 'oh, i'm fine. I just had a couple,' hanging out with family, having a couple drinks, maybe a few glasses of wine and they go ahead and drive," Glenn says. "There's so many options out there. There's so many other choices you can make and there's even more now than there was 15 years ago."
From 2013 to 2017, more than 800 people in the U.S. were killed in DUI-related crashes over the the Thanksgiving holiday. Glenn now works with the DUI Victims' Center, sharing her brother's story to spread awareness.