Andy's Law victim dies, leaves legacy of construction zone penalty

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The warnings you see in construction zones about jail time if you hit or kill a worker are because of Andy's Law. Tuesday, the man that law was named after, passed away from his injuries 19 years after getting hit on the job.

"My son passed away at 2:50 this morning. We just came from the funeral home before we got here," said Diane Wasson. Hours after she watched her son breathe his last, Wasson spoke to a group of DWI offenders at a Mother's Against Drunk Driving meeting, hoping her words will spare some other family the pain she's feeling.

Andy Lefko was struck by a drunk driver 19 years ago. He was working construction on I-275 near Grand River. It was his first day on the job. He was just 19 years old.

"We got the call at 1 o'clock in the morning from Botsford Hospital. I wasn't expecting the seriousness of it."

The impact was devastating. Andy spent weeks in a semi coma. The man who struck him was behind the wheel, drunk. It was the second time he had been caught driving under the influence.

"Because of the guidelines at the time, his first one to dropped to driving while impaired. So, when he hit my son, it was - by law - his first DWI [and the max sentence he could get was] 90 days," Wasson explained.

But she says the man only served 45 days in jail. Meanwhile, Andy was left paralyzed, barely a shell of himself for nearly 20 years before dying Tuesday morning.

"This past year, it's been multiple hospitalizations for pneumonias, kidney problems," Wasson said. "He became antibiotic resistant and it was just breaking down to where we as a family said enough was enough."

The crash prompted legislators to stiffen penalties for accidents in construction zones back in 2001, aptly naming it Andy's Law. If a driver injures or kills a worker, they'll have to pay a $7,500 fine and spend 15 years in prison. There's no way of knowing just how many lives have been saved from the 17-year-old law, from people slowing down upon seeing the sign.

Andy will be laid to rest Saturday.