By BRIAN SLODYSKO, Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The widow of an Uber driver killed in a suspected drunken driving crash said her family has been "devastated" by a political ad featuring her deceased husband, an Indianapolis Colts player who was also killed and the Guatemalan immigrant charged with their deaths.
Deb Monroe, the widow of driver Jeffrey Monroe, told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun should take his ad off the air.
"Why would you do this? He has not even been in the ground two weeks," said Monroe. "You could have had the decency to wait and let us deal with our loss."
The ad by Braun, who has yet to address to Monroe's concerns, comes in the midst of a heated GOP Senate primary. And it's just the latest example of a political figure, among them President Donald Trump, seizing on the Feb. 4 deaths of Monroe and Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson.
The two were struck while standing outside Monroe's car along Interstate 70 after Jackson, 26, became ill while Monroe, 54, was transporting him for the ride-hailing company, police said.
Trump tweeted about the tragedy, calling it "disgraceful" that the man charged with the crime, Manuel Orrego-Savala, 37, was a twice-deported immigrant in the country illegally. Braun's GOP primary rivals both released statements in the wake of the fatal crash.
The ad, which is narrated by Braun, displays Orrego-Savala's mug shot as well as pictures of Monroe and Jackson.
"Politicians in Washington have ignored this issue for far too long," Braun intones. "We must build the wall, ban sanctuary cities and put an end to chain migration. There are lives at stake."
Deb Monroe said calls for a crackdown on immigrants are beside the point.
"Immigration didn't kill my husband," said Monroe, 62, of Avon, Indiana. "The idiot that chose to drink and get behind the wheel of a 5,000 pound vehicle did."
She added: "If he had been sober and gone by them on the road, you wouldn't even know he was in the country."
Furthermore, she said her husband of 26 years was against building a wall along the southern U.S. border.
"He felt the wall was a waste of money, that it could be used better someplace else," she said.
Immigration has been a hot-button issue in Indiana's Republican Senate primary, which features two sitting congressman squaring off against Braun. Rep. Todd Rokita has embraced Trump's anti-immigration stances and Rep. Luke Messer recently sharpened his own tone.
Truly heartbreaking news in the deaths of Colts player Edwin Jackson and Uber driver Jeffrey Monroe. How many innocent Americans have to die before we fix our broken immigration system that keeps allowing dangerous criminals into our country? #INSen https://t.co/Cs0gfD47xB— Mike Braun (@braun4indiana) February 6, 2018
But the ad by Braun, a businessman and former state lawmaker, takes it to a new level.
Monroe said she phoned Braun's campaign to request that they take the ad off the air, but they have not returned her call.
Campaign spokesman Josh Kelley declined to address questions about whether Braun would heed her request, or if they plan on returning her call.
"Mike Braun believes that Washington needs to stop illegal immigration, build the wall, and keep criminal illegals like the one that killed Jeffrey Monroe and Edwin Jackson out of Indiana," Kelley wrote in an emailed statement. He added: "Mike and his family are praying for the families of the victims."
Deb Monroe said politicians have been all too happy to "exploit" her husband's death.
"Everyone is upset over this," Monroe said. "I can't let them do this to his name. I just can't."