INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis woman is in jail, accused of causing a fatal crash that claimed the life of a 72-year-old man on the city’s east side.

The fatal crash took place outside the Old Bethal and Partners food pantry in mid-February.

The victim was standing in line outside a food pantry near 21st Street and Franklin Road when he was hit by an SUV and crushed against the building. Jeffrey Ayers died after being taken to the hospital.

Jeffrey Wayne Ayers

“It’s not something I’ll forget,” said Ayers’ granddaughter Brandy Cooper. “I don’t have my grandfather here anymore and that hurts.

“It’s been real heart-wrenching. You go from talking to your grandfather every day to silence.”

According to court records, the driver who caused the crash told police she accidentally put the car into drive instead of reverse and accelerated into the victim.

While police said the suspect didn’t show signs of being under the influence on scene, a blood sample sent to the Marion County crime lab showed a blood alcohol level of .101.  That is above the legal limit and led to charges being filed against 48-year-old Indra Gomes this month for causing the death while intoxicated.

Indra Gomes

“These crashes are 100 percent preventable,” said Denise Nibiock with Mothers Against Drunk Driving Indiana.  “A big rule of thumb for us is to think ahead.  Don’t drive there if you can’t drive home because impairment does begin before .08.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims more than 10,000 people die each year nationwide from drunk driving crashes.  That’s why experts insist that impairment begins before there are any visible signs.

“I think it’s a big misconception that you’re fine unless you’re at the legal limit of .08.  We know that’s definitely not true,” said Niblick.

MADD urges drivers to take part in a pledge “to get there” safely this holiday season. Information on that campaign can be found here.

While it took nine months for criminal charges to be filed against the driver responsible, the Ayers family says the case can still serve an important safety lesson for everyone to be responsible behind the wheel.

“It’s just been hard,” Cooper said.  “That’s why they say don’t drink and drive for a reason.”

The suspect is being held on a $40,000 bond and is due in court for an initial hearing later this week.