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Hello! My name is Paula and I love to write. I have an affinity for words and I want to tell tales about life and share experiences. I now have my very own canvas. I’m so excited! I have wanted to be an author since I was a child. I graduated from the Morris Journalism Academy in 2007. It’s funny how sometimes your passions are put on the back burner, while life goes on. You have probably heard the line “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”, (is it from a song? Not sure). I am blessed with the gifts of time and space now, and here I am doing what I love.Check out some of my articles.. Happy reading!


Teen Drinking And Driving - The Jacqueline Saburido Story

"Oh Reggie, why did you took [sic] this decision, why? But, you know, I can't do anything." (Jacqueline Saburido)

Jacqueline Saburido psychically lost everything on 19th September 1999 on the outskirts of Austin Texas.

She was riding home with four friends after a birthday party when she crossed paths with an 18 year old college student named Reggie Stephey who was also heading home after a night drinking beer with his mates. Reggie was driving a brand new Yukon utility and inexplicably swerved into the Oldsmobile Jacqui and her friends were traveling in. Two passengers in the Oldsmobile were killed instantly and the other two rescued. Jacqui was still alive but her legs were pinned under the crumbled dashboard on the front passenger's seat.

Paramedic Bryan Fitzpatrick had to make the heart wrenching decision to leave Jacqui and move away from the vehicle because it was about to catch fire. For 45 agonizing seconds Jacqui's body burned in the flames that engulfed the car and as she sat in the flaming vehicle her mind raced, "I'm in America, I will make it, I will make it."

Bryan described his experience as he helplessly watched the car blazing, "During the time that she was burning, I remember hearing what I can best describe as wails of absolute human suffering. I have never heard that come from anybody else's mouth before in my entire life and I hope never to again, but I could hear her just absolute agony and when it stopped, I thought to myself, well, thank you for sparing her any more suffering. And I was sure at that point that she had died. When she moved and moaned, I didn't know what to do, it almost took my knees out from underneath me, because I just said to myself, "Oh my God, she's still alive."

After more than 40 surgeries to her badly charred body, Jacqui is horribly disfigured. She has no hair, nose, ears or fingers. She needs eye drops regularly as she has no eyelids. Initially she was almost blind, although there has been improvement thanks to ongoing treatment. During her appearance on Australian 60 minutes in 2004 she claimed that although the outside has changed she is still the same person inside, but the one thing she would really like to hold onto is her vision.

Jacqui grew up in Venezuela and came to America to study English, but her life changed forever on that night. Anyone who has met her will never forget her, not just because of her physical appearance, but because in spite of her suffering she is a woman with a mission appearing on TV advertisements warning others of the dangers of drink driving. She is a courageous inspiration and has defied incredible odds.

Her father Amadeo has moved from Caracas to take care of his only child. His life will never be the same either. He described the day he arrived at the hospital and saw his daughter for the first time since the accident, "There wasn't a single part of her where I could say, 'That's Jacqui.' No. Nothing except her feet." Jacqui's feet were untouched by the fire. She often uses them as hands as they are one of the few parts of her body that is not numb.

"Never in my life had I known what it was to cry like I did on that day," Amadeo said. "From then on, I cried in silence. I cried sleeping; I cried awake. I believe I was crying all the time."

In 2001, on his 20th birthday, Reggie Stephey was convicted of two counts of intoxication manslaughter, was fined $20,000 and jailed for seven years and although he would be out of prison but the time he turned 28 the image of the accident has been imprinted on his mind forever. He too has contributed to the anti-drink campaign and will live the rest of his life with the remorse for the stupid choice he made on the 19th September 1999.

He apologized to Jacqui and her response was, "I don't hate you".

"She didn't think I was a monster. She didn't hate me for doing this. And that was something that just amazed me, that she cannot and doesn't show any hate towards me for what I've done when you see so many people in the world hating everyone for some reason or another and here I gave her a pretty good reason to hate me for life and she forgives me," Reggie cried.

He has been approached by many people with the question: "How can you live with yourself?" What has happened cannot be changed; at the time he was not aware that he had a choice. He did not stop to think that there may have been another way to get home. He made a mistake and the cost has been shocking. "I was a normal, young person but I made a wrong decision and these are the consequences for it. Five families were devastated, two people lost their lives, a young girl was burned beyond recognition and I am in prison. These are the realities of drinking and driving," he said.

Liz Hayes is a reporter on Australian 60 minutes. She conducted an excellent interview with Jacqui and Reggie who have joined forces in educating others in regards to the danger of drink driving. Her words sum up their message, "In just 45 seconds, Jacqueline Saburido lost her face, her future, her independence. Anyone who's had one drink too many should remember Jacqui before getting behind a wheel. It's a face, a person that's hard to forget."

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