Jacqui Saburido was just 20 years old when her whole life was suddenly turned upside down by a drunk driver.
On September 19, 1999, Jacqui and four of her friends were returning home from a birthday party when a drunk 18-year-old crashed into their car in his pickup truck. The car Jacqui and the others were in went up in flames.
Two of Jacqui’s friends were killed on the spot, while Jacqui herself suffered severe burns all over her body. According to the New York Post, Jacqui was trapped in the car, with her legs pinned under the dashboard.
Paramedics quickly arrived on the crush scene and managed to pull out the two girls who survived but found it impossible to get to Jacqui. The fire truck arrived almost immediately, but by the time they managed to get Jacqui out of the burning car, the fire had badly ravaged her body.
She was rushed to the hospital where doctors revealed she had suffered third-degree burns to 60% of her body. Jacqui lost her nose, her ears, her lips, her hair, and she was almost blinded. She had to undergo about 120 surgeries to help reconstruct her body and also had a cornea transplant performed in a bid to restore vision in her left eye.
In an incredibly inspiring display of bravery and will, Jacqui became an advocate of the Faces of Drunk Driving Campaign, a program organized by the Texas Department of Transportation to raise much-needed awareness.
Unfortunately, two decades after the accident that changed her life, Jacqui Saburido passed away to cancer this year at the age of forty.
Jacqui Saburido, the woman whose disfigured face became a symbol of the dangers of drunk driving after she suffered horrific burns in a 1999 crash, has died, according to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. https://t.co/FZtj5dB5W5 pic.twitter.com/tpp5ug8gWx
— CNN (@CNN) April 24, 2019
The man driving the vehicle that rammed into Jacqui’s car, Reginald Stephey, was convicted of driving under the influence and manslaughter in 2001 and was sentenced to 7 years in prison.
Despite the horror and pain she had to go through, Jacqui not only beat the odds to survive, she did her best to thrive. She not only became an advocate for the Texas Department of Transportation’s anti-drunk driving campaign, she also allowed the media to use her pictures from the accident to raise awareness.
She took an extremely traumatizing experience that completely turned her life around and used her own experience to raise awareness and inspire change in a bid to prevent what happened to her from happening to others.
In a television interview, Jacqui once said, “Even if it means sitting here in front of a camera with no ears, no nose, no eyebrows, no hair, I’ll do this a thousand times if it will help someone make a wise decision.”
Drunk driving is very dangerous, it not only puts your life at risk, it also endangers the lives of those around you. It shouldn’t take a horrific accident like that which befell Jacqui to remind us of the obvious dangers associated with drunk driving.
Please remember to share this to honor the brave woman that was Jacqui Saburido and also take a stand against drunk driving.