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Honoring Officers' Efforts Against Drunk Driving

Ashley Nelson Award Named for Student Killed in 2007

Feb. 13, 2014

two young women hug an older woman

Nina Nelson, mother of the late Ashley Nelson, accepts flowers from two Alpha Chi Omega sorority sisters who spoke during the Feb. 12 presentation of the Ashley Nelson Award.

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Members of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, University Police, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), campus and community members gathered on campus Feb. 12 to honor two campus police officers for their efforts against drunk and impaired driving.

The officers are the inaugural recipients of the Ashley Nelson Award, named for the former CSUF business student and member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority who was killed in a Nov. 16, 2007, automobile crash caused by a driver under the influence of alcohol. It was presented to officers Karlton Bridgewaters and Steve Nelson for their work in stopping and arresting drivers under the influence.

Nelson, a member of the campus police force for three years and a CSUF alumnus, recorded 38 arrests; Bridgewaters, who has served with the University Police for two years, made 37 arrests.

"With this award, we honor all Titan family members who have been killed by impaired drivers," said Capt. John Brockie. "And we reinforce the resolve of Cal State Fullerton's police force to fight impaired driving."

Brockie noted that University Police have made nearly 400 arrests in the last three years and have held numerous awareness programs on campus. Officers also have taken part in community programs, he added.

The two officers received pins to be worn on their uniform, and their names have been added to a rosewood plaque that will be displayed in the lobby of the University Police Department.

Joining in the recognition of the officers' efforts were representatives from MADD; state Sen. Lou Correa, who also presented resolutions from Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk Silva; and a representative of state Sen. Bob Huff.

"We are the first defense," said Correa, urging those in the audience to "step up" and have the courage "to take the keys away ... to minimize these incidents."

John Nelson spoke about his daughter, Ashley, and thanked the officers who called the family about creating a perpetual award in recognition of his daughter. "Know that you are doing something good and you are saving lives," he said. "Ashley's family honors you."

President Mildred García also thanked those attending and stressed the importance of education beyond the classroom to help keep students safe. "This is about community. This is about our community. When we lose one of our community to something like this, we lose a bit of our soul. We will always remember this strong Titan through this award."

In addition to the Nelson award, University Police also recognized the efforts of Corp. Patrick Launi and Lt. Scot Willey, who developed the idea, reached out to the family and made the award a reality. Chief Dennis DeMaio presented a Distinguished Service Award to Launi — whose father, an officer with the Santa Ana Police, was in attendance — and noted that the award will also go to Willey, who was unable to attend.

"DUI arrests are a lot of work but if it saves a life, it's all worth it," said Nelson following the ceremony.

Bridgewaters agreed. "We will keep doing what we have to do to keep people safe."

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