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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Family Of Man Who Died From Taco Eating Contest Sue Fresno Grizzlies Owner

Entertainment

Family Of Man Who Died From Taco Eating Contest Sue Fresno Grizzlies Owner

Dana Hutchings, 41, entered a taco eating contest during a Fresno Grizzlies game in 2019. He choked and died during the contest and now his son has filed a lawsuit against the baseball team.

The son of a man who died from a taco eating contest is suing for wrongful death.

Dana Hutchings, 41, died after choking during a taco eating contest during a Fresno Grizzlies game. His son has filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming that the event organizers were not equipped to host the event. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that the organizers failed to provide a medical response team.

“People say all the time he knew what he was getting into, well clearly he didn’t,” Martin Taleisnik, an attorney representing Hutchings’ son, Marshall told CBS17.

Marshall and his attorney are pushing back at the notion that Dana should have known better.

People have sounded off on social media criticizing the family for filing the lawsuit. Yet, the family and their attorney are calling attention to the lack of information given to contestants.

“If you don’t know all the pitfalls, how can you truly be consenting and participating freely and voluntarily? It’s a risk that resulted in a major loss to Marshall,” Taleisnik told CBS17.

Dana’s family is seeking a monetary settlement from the Fresno Grizzlies owners.

The wrongful death lawsuit names Fresno Sports and Events as the responsible party. The lawsuit also notes that alcohol was made available to contestants and added to the likelihood of the tragedy.

“We are devastated to learn that the fan that received medical attention following an event at Tuesday evening’s game has passed away. The Fresno Grizzlies extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the family of Mr. Hutchings,” a statement from the Fresno Grizzlies read after the death in 2019. “The safety and security of our fans is our highest priority. We will work closely with local authorities and provide any helpful information that is requested.”

READ: Kobe Bryant’s Wrongful Death Lawsuit Has Tragically Been Moved To Federal Court Despite Vanessa Bryant’s Pleas

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Woman Who Watched Her Mother Die Before Her Eyes While At Sea As A 9-Year-Old Reunited With Her Rescuers

Fierce

Woman Who Watched Her Mother Die Before Her Eyes While At Sea As A 9-Year-Old Reunited With Her Rescuers

May 20, 1986, started out for Desireé Rodriguez and her family as an idyllic morning.

At the time, Desireé’s father (a 30-year-old construction worker by the name of Thomas Rodriguez) had taken her, her mother, and sister as well an aunt and uncle out to Catalina Island for a day of sailing. The plan was to go out, fish, and bask in the summer sun before heading back home. In the evening, just as they were headed home the family was impacted by a dense fog. Desireé and her 5-year-old sister Trisha awoke from a nap on the boat to calls from her father to abandon ship and within minutes the entire family was lost at sea. Out in the water and away from their boat that had capsized.

 The family of six was stranded in the chilly Pacific water for hours and Desireé watched as her father first went to swim for rescue and never returned. In the hours that slowly stretched by Desireé witnessed the death of her sister, her mother, her uncle and then her aunt.

Decades have passed since her family’s accident but Desireé has lived to tell of the story thanks to the two men who rescued her.

In a recent piece by The New York times, Desireé was reunited with the two men who were remarkably able to save her after she spent a nightmarish 20 hours in the ocean.

Only 9-years-old at the time of the tragic events, Desireé recalls believing that her father would return with help when he first swam away from the boat. “My dad was like the superhero to me. I actually thought he would get help,” Desireé explained before calling the desperate hours that followed. After watching her family members die, she found herself all alone.

“At that point, I just kind of made the decision, I need to get away from this boat,” Desireé recalled to the New York Times. “I need to swim away, somewhere else. … Where? I don’t know.”

Just when Desireé decided to give up hope, the skipper of a commercial sportfishing boat spotted her orange life jacket in the water.

The boat’s first officer leapt into the water and fished Desireé out of the water. Desireé was ultimately transported back to San Pedro and never saw her rescuers again.

“I don’t think I would have lived, I’ll be honest with you. I think at that point, I was just kind of done,” Desireé explained in a recent interview about the incident. According to an article at the time that described the incident, Desireé had suffered no major physical injuries and was “in good spirits.” She left the hospital in San Pedro the next time.

“I had even hoped that my dad did make it somewhere,” Desireé explained of her thinking of the time. “Maybe he is living on an island and just got amnesia and didn’t know that he has a family. You know, you always have hope. But you get older, and reality sets in, and you’re like, OK. He didn’t make it.”

Paul Strasser and Mark Pisano, the two men who rescued her, ultimately earned commemorative plaques for their bravery from Mayor Tom Bradley. Desireé Rodriguez, now Desireé Campuzano, was adopted by another aunt and uncle who raised her. She went onto attend junior college in Fullerton, built herself a career in criminal justice, married and had a son. Still, she always wondered what had happened to the men who saved her.

It wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that Strasser and Pisano came into contact with Philip Friedman who launched a podcast about his hobby as a fisherman.

“Friedman Adventures” which launched this past December, shares incredible stories from fishermen. Ine one episode Pisano spoke about the 1986 rescue.

“It’s kind of a weird story, kind of like there are some supernatural qualities,” Pisano explained of the experience on the podcast.

Friedman felt motivated to unite the two rescuers and Desireé. Ultimately a friend of Desireé’s heard the episode when it aired and made the connection. He reached out to Desireé and then Friedman and ultimately she and her rescuers were reunited.

“I was nervous at first,” Desireé said of meeting Strasser and Pisano “just seeing [the] guys and putting kind of finalization to the ‘what happened.’” The three were finally reunited during another episode of the podcast.

“I feel like she’s sort of our daughter, in a way, because we brought her back to life,” Strasser said during their reunion. “Even though we never knew each other.”

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