Ferndale, Michigan,
07:20 AM

Updated: Police Officer Gets Personal to Save Lives

Never Drink and Drive.

2022 Update:

2022 marks the 10 year anniversary of Olivia’s death.

She would have been turning 14-years-old.

When Olivia’s sister, Katie graduates high school, the Clevelands plan to visit Hawaii.

When her brother Gavin graduates, they will head to Alaska.

“Then, we’ll have visited all 50 states,” said Jodie. “We were never able to take Olivia to Disney World, something we regret. After losing Olivia, we vowed to travel.”

The family continues to advocate for safe and responsible driving in their daughter’s honor.

“No one should ever lose a child to a drunk driver,” said Jodie. “As we commemorate the 10 year anniversary of Olivia’s passing, please remember to drive sober.”

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From the outside, life for the Clevelands seems normal...

They’re a hardworking, active family who love spending time together. John’s a police officer, his wife Jodie’s a dental hygienist. Their kids are full-time students. But peel back the layers and you’ll discover, this family of four was once a family of five...

The year was 2012.

John, Jodie and their three children Katie (age eight), Gavin (age five) and Olivia (age three) were en route to a local restaurant. Out of the corner of her eye, Jodie saw a brown car traveling fast. So fast, it accelerated through the westbound lanes of traffic, bypassing a line of idle cars. The vehicle sped forward…heading straight towards them.

“I just braced on the steering wheel and closed my eyes. I knew we were going to get hit,” said Jodie.

In a matter of seconds, life for the Clevelands changed forever... 

...Their youngest child Olivia, had been killed by a drunk driver.Olivia Cleveland

“This pretty, vibrant, funny, always happy little girl was now lifeless,” John spoke softly.

The days turned into months. The months to years...

While their physical injuries have healed, John, Jodie and their remaining children - Katie and Gavin say the emptiness of losing Olivia will never subside.

“Someone’s senseless act took our daughter, and now we live with that pain every day,” said John.

“Many nights I lie awake wondering what Olivia would have been like, what her interests and passions would be if she were still with us.” said Jodie.

"We can do more."

In spite of the heartache, John, Jodie and their children have chosen to honor Olivia’s legacy by speaking out. They’re sharing their story publicly to promote smart decisions, sober driving and safer roads.

“It’s not the same until you live it, see it, breathe it,” said John. “If we can make it personal…touch them with our message….maybe just maybe they’ll get the point. We can do more. We can prevent future tragedies from happening.”

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