She suffered horrific burns in the 1999 crash, which melted off her hair, her ears, lips, nose, and eyelids, and robbed her of the use of her hands
The woman who became synonymous to the "Faces of Drunk Driving" campaign, Jacqui Saburido, died on 20 April 2019, according to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. She died from cancer in Guatemala at the 40.
Saburido had been in the USA in 1999 for less than a month when the horrific accident happened, reports CNN. She was on her way home with four friends in Austin, Texas when their car was hit head-on by a drunk driver. Saburido was on the front seat, next to the driver. Two other passengers in the car died instantly while Saburido was barely alive. The only thing she remembers about the crash is the whir of the blades on the helicopter that came to rush her to the hospital.
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/GfHur19H3s pic.twitter.com/aS8q48wUdv— CNN (@CNN) April 23, 2019
According to the website of Faces of Drunken Driving, the accident left her with extensive third-degree burns that had scorched her eyes and left her blind. Her hair had melted off, her ears, lips, nose, and eyelids were gone, and robbed her of the use of her hands. She underwent over 100 operations since the crash with over $5 million in medical bills. And she had no health insurance.
She was just a teenager whose carefree life in Caracas disappeared in a split second. Her ability to live independently, along with her plans for a career and a family, all went up in flames, quite literally. Amadeo Saburido, Jacqui’s father has been with her since her ordeal began. He left Venezuela and has been with Jacqui to take care of her here. He came to nurse his daughter back to health, but days turned into months, into years. He dressed, bathed and fed her every day. He was also around for every operation.
The driver of the other vehicle, 18-year-old Reggie Stephey, as tried and convicted of two counts of intoxication manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison. His sentence got over in 2008.
Since the crash, Saburido became an advocate for the Texas Department of Transportation's anti-drunk-driving campaign. She has been to numerous school appearances to create awareness regarding the dangers of driving under the influence. She was also a guest on Oprah Winfrey's show twice.
She had 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." In one of her many speaking engagements, Saburido said, "This is part of my mission here on the Earth," she added in a video on the Faces of Drunk Driving site. "If this face and this body can help others, then why not?"