I blog about living with alcoholism and addiction, but you don’t have to be an alcoholic to be effected by alcohol or drugs to be horribly affected. Exactly one year ago today that fact hit me like a bolt of lightning in a rain storm and I lost a part of my heart. A year ago today (July 3, 2014) Margarita Santiago and two of her cousins lost their young lives in a horrific car accident. Margarita was 32 years old leaving behind her twin sister, her mother and a 15 year old son. She was like a daughter to me.
The driver of the vehicle was under the influence and lost control of the truck. The truck hit a guard rail, became airborne, hit the ground and slid 152 feet before hitting a tree. Everyone in the car lost their lives. The picture above is from the actual accident.
The accident effected everyone in the lives of these three people. I went home for Margarita’s funeral. It was the first time I’d been home since I got sober and the emotions that ran through me and all those who loved her can’t be put into words. It’s taken me a year for this reality to sink in. Even I, as many times as I’d done it during my “dark days” never thought about the possible consequences of getting behind the wheel. On the very rare occasion that I did think about it, the only thought that popped into my head was the possibility of going to jail. I never thought beyond that, and the thought always left me as quickly as it came. I always had it in my head that “I got this and it would never happen to me.”
It wasn’t until this horrific accident, that the reality became real to me. I spoke to Margarita the day before and we’d made plans for her to get out of Jersey for awhile and come down here to Florida to figure things out. Less than twenty-four hours later, she was gone. All three of the people who died were young and still had much to do in this life. They were all taken way too soon due to an extreme error in judgment.
Driving while you’re under the influence of anything (no matter how little you think you’ve had) should NEVER be an option. The possibility of you hurting yourself or others is very REAL. There is no shame in turning your keys over to someone who hasn’t been drinking (or using) You can also do any of the following things:
Have a designated driver planned before you go out.
Take a cab home
Catch a ride with someone
Call someone to come get you
Have a friend drive and crash at their house
If you can’t do any of the above, don’t drink (or use)
You should also never let a friend drive after they’ve been drinking (or using)
Like me, you may get lucky a few times, but the possibility of your luck running out sooner or later is very real. A few years ago, right here in Jacksonville, Florida a woman named Sasha Pringle was driving extremely drunk. While she was on the Buckman Bridge, she cut off a truck containing a woman and her four children. The truck went over the side of the bridge and all five people died. There was a witness who called 911 and followed the drunk woman home where the police arrested her. Turns out the woman was driving in a black out, she woke up the next morning in the Duval County jail and had no clue how she got there or why. Could you imagine waking up in the County Jail and being told you just killed five people four of which were children? According to my research, it was the woman’s 4th car wreck in a two year period of time while driving under the influence. Contrary to what you may believe or have been told, you don’t have to drink and extreme amount to have a black out. Black outs are NOT caused from drinking too much, they occur when you drink too fast. You can drink nothing more than three or four shots or drinks back to back and could enter into a black out.
Yes, these are extreme cases, but they aren’t as few and far between as you may think. Is it worth taking that chance??? Wake up. If you’re old enough to drink, than be adult enough to drink responsibly. As I said in the beginning, you don’t have to be an alcoholic or addict to suffer from the deadly consequences. All it would take is one stupid decision after a night of partying.
Nobody is exempt from the possibility of something happening while driving under the influence. Whether it be a small fender bender or something on a much larger scale. You have every right to make decisions with your own lives, but you don’t have the right to decide on the lives of others and that’s just what you’re doing when you get behind the wheel and dive while you’re under the influence of any kind. I don’t expect this message to sink in to everyone, but I pray that it does reach a few of you who may have read this.
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist.