NJ college student’s DWI killer pleads guilty as event honors his memory
CLARK — A walk scheduled for Saturday will honor the memory of Michael Sot, a college student who was killed by a drunk driver while serving as the designated driver for his friends.
Proceeds from the event, which will include a ceremony before the walk, are going to the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers, which honors another young New Jersey man whose life was taken too soon.
"I think people still think that getting hit or hurt by a drunk driver is like getting hit by lightning — it's far more common than that," said Bill Elliott, founder of the HERO Campaign.
His son, Navy Ensign John R. Elliott, of Egg Harbor Township, died in a collision with a drunk driver in July 2000, two months after graduating form the Naval Academy. The campaign in his name was created in the same year, with a goal of preventing impaired driving.
"We anticipate about 300 people coming to this event on Saturday the 19th," Elliott said.
Supporters at the event will be encouraged to take the HERO Pledge to be and use designated drivers.
The Remembering Michael Sot HERO Walk will be held at Sot's former high school, Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark. Check-in begins at 10 a.m., a ceremony kicks off at 10:45 a.m., and the walk starts at 11 a.m. You can register for the event here — the price is $25 for adults and $15 for students.
In December 2018, Sot, a sophomore at The College of New Jersey, was serving as the designated driver for his fraternity brothers at the time of his death. David Lamar, of West Windsor, swerved into the vehicle driven by Sot in the early morning hours of Dec. 2.
"The irony of my story is that Mike was being what HERO is calling people to do," Michael Sot, the victim's father, told New Jersey 101.5.
Sot and Elliott both said there is no excuse for drunk driving in this day and age, given the availability of ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft.
Security footage showed Lamar drinking for a number of hours at a campus bar before the deadly collision. His blood-alcohol content was almost three times the legal limit.
Lamar on Friday pleaded guilty to death by auto and assault by auto charges and faces 12 years in prison.
"While that, in my mind, might not be enough, it is justice for Mike," Sot said.
Lamar will be sentenced in September.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org