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Woman who was terribly disfigured after being hit by drunk driver dies of cancer aged 40

Jacqueline Saburido was severely disfigured by a drunk driving crash in 1999, becoming the face of a..

By Sunday Herald Team , in World Update , at April 22, 2019

Jacqueline Saburido

Jacqueline Saburido was severely disfigured by a drunk driving crash in 1999, becoming the face of anti-drunk driving campaigns across the world (Picture: Youtube/Austin American-Statesman)

A woman who was left permanently disfigured after she was hit by a drunk driver died of cancer Saturday at the age of 40.

Jaqueline Saburido became the face of numerous campaigns against drunk driving after she was horribly burnt in a crash in September 1999 near Austin, Texas.

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Saburido had left a party and was in a car with three friends when she was hit by Reggie Stephey, 18, who had been drinking at another party, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

She had taking a break from classes at a university in Caracas, Venezuala to study English in Texas – a decision that would dramatically change her life.

The crash killed the driver, Natalia Bennett, and Laura Guerrero, a 20-year-old student from Columbia. Saburido was trapped in the passenger seat in the car that burst into flames.

Jacqueline Saburido

Jacquelyn Saburido, pictured, was horribly disfigured by a drunk driving car crash when she was 20 in Texas (Picture: KVUE)

She was burned for nearly a minute before paramedics extinguished the fire.



Saburido was rushed to a Galveston burn unit where she underwent numerous emergency surgeries and skin graphs.

Her eyes were sewn shut so they wound not dry out. One by one, her lips, ears, and nose fell off. Bone in her fingers died and had to be amputated.

In 2001, a jury found Stephey guilty of two counts of intoxicated manslaughter and sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Saburido asked to meet with Stephey during the trial and told him she forgave him. During his prison sentence, the two worked together on anti-drunken driving campaigns.


Reggie Stephey was tried and convicted of intoxicated manslaughter after the incident (picture: Texas Department of Corrections)

In May 2002, the American-Statesman published Chasing Hope, which told Saburidos harrowing story. It was later distributed to high school students throughout the state.

I thought she was the bravest, most courageous person I have ever met, said Janet Lea, the former senior vice president of the Sherry Matthews Group that organized the anti-drunk driving campaign for the Texas Department of Transportation.

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With all of her injuries she was still wickedly funny and also willing to speak to anybody who would listen to her about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Over time, Saburidos advocacy began to reach an international audience, and she was featured in safety campaigns in countries around the world, reaching as far as Australia.

In a press conference, she once said: Even if it means sitting here in front of a camera with no ears, no nose, no eyebrows, no hair, Ill do this a thousand times if it will help someone make a wise deciRead More – Source