By Rob Kepple
TDCAF and TDCAA Executive Director in Austin
I was truly saddened last month when I learned that Jacqui Saburido had died of cancer. Ms. Saburdio became a symbol of the dangers of drunk driving after she suffered horrific burns to her face and body in a 1999 crash.
Jacqui, then a 20-year old Venezuelan student at the University of Texas, was headed home from a birthday party at the legendary Oasis on Lake Travis in Austin with friends when their car was struck head-on by a drunk driver who had drifted into their lane. Two other passengers in the car died instantly. Jacqui, sitting in the front passenger seat, suffered third-degree burns over 60 percent of her body after the car caught fire. You will certainly agree that the anti-DWI ad campaign that came years later stuck with you. A good friend of mine was the photographer and producer for the TxDOT campaign and got to know Jacqui in the process, and he attests that her selflessness in the face of this unspeakable adversity was humbling to everyone involved in that project.
The reason I mention Jacqui in this TDCAF News column is that this Foundation exists to help prosecutors be ready to do their jobs. If we do our jobs right, we can truly impact the number of crime victims we see in our communities. There were no winners in tragedies like what happened to Jacqui and in the criminal trial afterward, but there can be winners in the future—people who are spared from such suffering because of the work prosecutors do. I truly believe that your work has saved lives.
I have linked to Jacqui’s story here: www.facesofdrunkdriving.com/jacqui. The whole website is weighty with details of that night, including the drunk driver’s 911 call. If you as a prosecutor ever do outreach on DWI to schools and your communities, sharing Jacqui’s story could serve you well, and her memory and work will live on.