This is Jacqueline Saburido before September 19, 1999.
This is the car Jacqueline was in when she
was hit by a drunk 18-year old student.
This is Jacqueline today.
Early on Sunday morning September 19, 1999, Jacqui - then 20 years old - and four friends were on their way home from a birthday party. Reggie Stephey, an 18-year-old high school student, was on his way home from drinking beer with some buddies. On a dark road on the outskirts of Austin, Texas, Reggie's SUV veered into the Oldsmobile carrying Jacqui and the others. Two passengers in the car were killed at the scene and two were rescued. Within minutes, the car caught fire. Jacqui was pinned in the front seat on the passenger side. She was burned over 60% of her body; no one thought she could survive. But Jacqui lived. Her hands were so badly burned that all of her fingers had to be amputated. She lost her hair, her ears, her nose, her left eyelid and much of her vision. She has had more than 50 operations since the crash and has many more to go.
In June 2001 Reggie Stephey was convicted of two counts of intoxication manslaughter for the deaths of Jacqui's two friends. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $20,000. ~ www.helpjacqui.com
Jacqueline Saburido is an amazing woman. I saw her on the Oprah show a few days ago and was deeply touched and saddened by what she had to say. I cried when I saw her interview and I don't usually cry when I watch TV. The thing that touched me most about Jacqui was her positive outlook on life and her willingness to forgive. She accepts the way she looks and only allows herself 5 minutes a day to feel sorry for herself and cry. She also doesn't harbour any hatred towards Reggie Stephey or think of him as an evil person, just someone who made the wrong decision one fateful morning.
Let Jacqui's story be a lesson to all of us. We all love to have a good time and more often than not, friends and alcohol seem like the perfect combination. But let's be honest here, lots of us have made or allowed someone else to make the same decision Reggie Stephey made that morning. We've allowed our friends to drive home a little drunk or convinced our own friends that we were sober enough to drive. I guess the problem with most of us is, we take life for granted and think that the bad stuff only happens to other people, never to ourselves.
Well, I'd hate for this to sound like a public service announcement but I really hope these pictures make us think twice about the responsibility that comes with drinking or driving. Remember, it's all fine and dandy if you get into an accident and die but what happens if you end up paralyzed or disfigured like Jacqui or worse, end up paralyzing, disfiguring or killing someone else? I doubt any one of us would want to be in Jacqueline Saburido's or Reggie Stephey's position so think about it the next time you're planning to drink and drive.
Want to know more about Jacqueline's life before and after the accident? You can download the full story here.