MADD ‘Crash’ Event Raises Drunk Driving Awareness


Holly Galvan/San Jacinto Times

Emily Jones lost her life when an impaired driver hit her truck (pictured). Her totaled vehicle sits on display on the South campus as part of Horrors of the Crash.

When a drunk driver killed Cari Lightner in a hit-and-run crash May 3, 1980, her mother made it her mission to stop drunk driving. As a result, she founded MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to keep other parents from the grief of losing a child to the same preventable cause.

In that spirit, MADD brought their message to San Jacinto College South Campus Oct. 20 with an exhibit called Horrors of the Crash. The display featured eight vehicles involved in actual deadly drunk driving crashes.

Kendall Collette, volunteer coordinator for MADD Southeast Texas, said MADD’s display at San Jac is part of a larger initiative to raise awareness about drunk and drugged driving.

“The week of October 19-23 is National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week. This event fits perfectly,” she said.

Collette said she hopes the San Jac community comes out to interact with MADD volunteers, especially victims, who articulate how an individual’s actions can affect others. “When people drive under the influence, they are not only endangering themselves but all the people around them. I want San Jacinto to remember that moving forward,” she added.

Meanwhile Dr. Carol Chance, professor of integrated reading and writing, noted the high number of drunk driving deaths among young people in Harris County, and stressed the need for responsible decision-making before tragedy strikes.

“As MADD emphasizes, these fatalities are not the result of ’accidents;’ MADD uses the term ‘crashes’ because people make poor decisions to drink and drive, not by accident,” Chance said. “Legal age drinking and responsible driving are key in lowering the number of deaths in this county.”

The exhibition originated as a service-learning initiative on the South Campus. “The first Horrors of a Crash was held in October 2012 and has continued each year with support from South campus administration, Student Life, professors, students, MADD representatives, and MADD-connected community agencies,” Chance said.

Likewise, Collette added, other individuals and groups help to spread MADD’s message. On the South campus, participants included victims’ families, Krysta’s Karing Angels, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission, AgriLife Simulators, and law enforcement agencies. Additionally, she explained, the exhibit features actors portraying real life events in order to emphasize the true horror of when people are injured or killed by impaired drivers.

“We honor our victims by remembering them,” Collette added, “speaking about them, and by connecting with their families.”

Krysta’s Karing Angels is a nonprofit organization founded by Mark and Terri Rodriguez after their daughter Krysta was killed in a crash. They were able to acquire the car Krysta was driving when she was hit by a drunk driver and now use it as part of the exhibit to support MADD’s message.

James, a volunteer with Krysta’s Karing Angels, said their mission is to educate the young people in the area and spread the message, if they are going to go out and drink, “just don’t drink and drive.”

“We are not here to tell you not to drink. Be responsible about it. When you drink and drive it does not affect just you. It affects your loved ones and their loved ones,” he explained.

At the event, a bingo-style card helped attendees navigate the different stations set up by participants, past a graffiti board that displayed messages to victims and family members, and past a pinwheel count of drunk driving deaths. Ultimately, the bingo card led attendees to the parents of children who died in the vehicles, as part of a “victims’ tribute.”

There, students had the opportunity to meet Ross Jones and learn about his late daughter, the victim of a drunk driver. Jones, father of Emily Jones, said although young people are vulnerable to the pitfalls of drinking and driving, he is hopeful they will be the ones to bring about social change.

“Their generation can make it unacceptable to leave a restaurant drunk and kill someone,” Jones said. “The older generation isn’t going to stop this problem.”