Jacqui Saburido, the face of the anti-drunk driving campaign since 1999, has passed away at age 40 after her fight with cancer.
Saburido was affected by one of many Americans who makes a life-changing mistake every day: drinking while driving. In 1999, Saburido and her friends were returning from a party in Austin, TX when a drunk driver hit their car head-on.
As the front-seat passenger, Saburido suffered third-degree burns on 60% of her body when the car erupted in flames following the crash. Two of the other passengers were able to make it from the wreck.
She survived this wreck, though two other passengers in the car were not so lucky. Natalia Chyptchak Bennett and Laura Guerrero were killed on the scene.
As a result, Saburido had to undergo more than 100 operations. Because she was a recent immigrant from Venezuela without health insurance, the total costs crested more than $5 million over the next few years. She was currently discussing further skin grafts in Guatemala when she lost her fight to cancer.
The Texas Department of Transportation notes that the accident “scorched her eyes and left her blind; melted off her hair; took her ears, lips, nose, and eyelids; and robbed her of the use of her hands.”
In an effort to teach others about the painful repercussions of drunk driving, Saburido used her new appearance as a warning to the countless people who perform this dangerous activity each day. Even though three in four people cope with speech anxiety, Saburido was able to reach an estimated one billion people with her powerful anti-drunk driving campaign.
With the help of the Texas Department of Transportation, she was able to traverse the state, making stops to local schools. She even appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show twice. Her anti-drunk driving campaigns were featured in countries as distant as Australia.
“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,” Saburido once said.
This is essential for the 73% of Millennials who regularly drink liquor, beer, and wine. The legal limit dictates that your blood alcohol content (BAC) cannot exceed more than .08% in order to properly drive a vehicle. However, it’s always recommended that you rely on a sober driver while drinking.
According to Saburido’s family, the advocate died from cancer in Guatemala where she moved several years earlier for better medical treatment.