Fierce

Jacqui Saburido, The Latina Whose Tragic Story Taught The World About Drunk Driving, Has Died

Most Millennials will recognize the face of Jacqui Saburido well. The Venezuelan-born activist arrested national and international attention in the early 2000s after a car crash in 1999 left 60% of her body severely burned including her face.

After the tragic accident in 1999, which killed two of her friends, Saburido allowed the graphic post-accident photographs of herself to be used in commercials and reports. She appeared in anti-drunk driving advertisements and was a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show on multiple occasions.

On Tuesday, Saburido’s family revealed that after a years-long battle with cancer, she passed away in Guatemala City. According to TxDOT’s Faces of Drunk Driving Campaign, by the time of her death, Saburidos story was told to at least one billion people across the globe.

In 1999, Saburido’s life was changed for forever while she was heading home from a birthday party with a few friends.

Saburido and a few of her friends had left a birthday party in Austin Texas and were driving when their small car was struck by a large pickup truck. Reginald Stephey was behind the wheel of the truck at the time and had also been drinking before the accident. The driver of the car, along with a passenger of the car Saburido was in, suffered fatal injuries.

Saburido was trapped in the car and remained there when it caught fire.

As a result, Saburido was left with third-degree burns across 60% of her body, her fingers were amputated, she lost her hair, her ears, her nose, lips, her left eyelid and most of her vision. To recover, she was required to have over 120 reconstructive surgeries including a cornea transplant for her left eye.

Soon after her accident, Saburido became an advocate for Texas Department of Transportation’s anti-drunk-driving campaign.

She made numerous appearances at academic institutions where she spoke of her experience to students in an effort to quash drunk-driving related accidents.

In an interview for the Faces Of Drunk Driving site, Saburido once said, “This is part of my mission here on the Earth… If this face and this body can help others, then why not?”

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