Matt Weintraub stood behind a podium Tuesday morning near the spot where, 30 years ago, four of his friends were killed in a drunk-driving accident that the Bucks County coroner at the time called "one of the worst I've ever seen."
Weintraub, now the chief of prosecution for the Bucks County District Attorney's Office, was 16 years old at the time of the crash. Now, he had a message for those who might consider driving under the influence over the Thanksgiving holiday, a period notorious for drunk driving.
"If you are going to drink and drive," he said, "we are going to catch you."
Flanked by representatives from local police departments, Weintraub announced the launch of a special task force comprised of 20 officers from nine Bucks County police departments that are to patrol the Street Road corridor in Lower Bucks County from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. starting Wednesday night in a crackdown on holiday-related drunk driving.
Pennsylvania had 499 crashes and 13 fatalities attributed to impaired driving over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2014. Of those crashes, 16, including one death, occurred in Bucks County.
Zero DUI arrests is the goal, Weintraub said, while conceding that is highly unlikely. He chided would-be drunk drivers that, in a world of Uber and Lyft, there is "no excuse."
Joe Bartorilla, Chief of the Middletown Township Police Department, is to dispatch three officers to serve on the task force. Even though the Street Road corridor does not run through his town, he said county-wide collaboration is crucial.
"We know Wednesday night traditionally is the biggest go-out night," he said. "If you're going to party and you're going to drink . . . do anything but get behind the wheel."
The accident that took Weintraub's friends' lives occurred on Sept. 13, 1985. Eight young men piled into a Chevrolet Blazer after an alcohol-infused party. The driver, who had been drinking, survived the crash. Weintraub was at the same party, but happened to ride in a different car that night.
Killed in the accident were Weintraub's fellow William Tennent High School seniors Morris "Marty" Freedenberg, 16, and Brian Ball, 17, as well as recent graduates Robert Schweiss, 18, and Christopher Avram, 17.
Weintraub gave a speech to his fellow students after the accident.
"It could have been us, and maybe we could have stopped it, and now it's too late," he said, according to an Inquirer article at the time.
After the press conference, Weintraub reflected on that time of loss.
"I was stunned and then numb and then angry and then sad," he said. "I just didn't know how to function."
Weintraub had with him Tuesday his senior year yearbook, which featured a page dedicated to Ball and Freedenberg, who would have graduated with him.
"I'm fortunate that I got to do something about it," Weintraub said of the tragedy. "It's always been on my mind."