PUNXSUTAWNEY – PSP Trooper Kenton Iwaniec's friends referred to him as “The Shepherd,” or “Shep.” When he and his friends would go out, he was the designated driver.
“They called him 'Shepherd,'” his father, Ken Iwaniec, said Friday. “When they'd go out, he would get them home. We'd say, 'Are you going out?' His friends said, 'Yeah; Shep's got us.'”
There was no designated driver for Kristina Quercetti, 41, of Landenberg, who, while traveling 73 mph in a 45 zone, crossed the Route 41 center line, sideswiped one vehicle and then struck Iwaniec's personal vehicle head-on March 27, 2008, after he finished his shift at the Troop J Avondale station, Chester County. He died two hours later in a Newark, Del., hospital.
Iwaniec, 24, had served as a state trooper only three months at the time of his death.
Despite their lives being changed forever in the aftermath of their son's death, Iwaniec's parents, Ken and Debra Iwaniec, have been fighting for victims and families devastated by impaired drivers, and supporting law enforcement in their efforts to get those drivers off the road.
Friday, at the Troop C headquarters in Punxsy, the Iwaniecs presented eight personal breath test (PBT, or a portable breathalyzer) instruments to representatives from each station – Punxsy, Clarion, DuBois/Falls Creek, Kane, Ridgway and Tionesta – in Troop C. The couple had also presented a PBT to a representative from the Clearfield station at a previous event.
“These tools might not always be available,” Ken told troopers gathered during the presentation Friday. “They might be spread out. Our goal is to put one in every station.”
A label bearing Iwaniec's image appears on each of the PBTs that troopers accepted Friday, as a reminder that they are fighting the same fight as their fallen comrade.
Lt. Kevin Doverspike, the patrol section commander for Troop C, said the PBT measures the amount of alcohol in a person's system as a preliminary step for the investigating trooper. Also, if an obviously-impaired person's system shows no signs of alcohol, the trooper can know that there is another substance causing that person to be impaired.
“They're more invaluable to this day,” he said. “The trooper can dig further and find the cause of the impairment.”
Pick up a copy of the Monday, Aug. 8, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.