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Spokeswoman for Drunk Driving Awareness Campaigns Dies at Age 40

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Jacqueline Saburido Garcia became the spokeswoman for campaigns against drunken driving following her severe burn injuries resulting from a wreck near Lake Travis two decades ago. According to her family in Guatemala, she passed away on Saturday, April 20, 2019, of cancer. She was just 40 years old.

A family member told local media that Jacqueline had undergone facial reconstruction surgery, receiving skin grafts to form her nose as well as new eyelids. Despite these procedures, she had also been devoting her time toward fighting cancer. As an anti-drunk driving campaign spokeswoman, her story of recovery following the fiery Texas wreck inspired hope among her global followers. She was featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” as well as in a variety of publications, both in Texas and beyond.

Spokeswoman for Drunk Driving Awareness Campaigns Dies at Age 40
Photo: Facebook/Texas Department of Transportation

Jacqueline was just 20 years old when the tragic, fiery crash occurred in the Texas Hill Country. She hailed from a wealthy family and was studying English in Austin while on break from her engineering classes in Caracas. On the night of September 19, 1999, Jacqueline and three friends left a party on Lake Travis after catching a ride with Natalia Chyptchak Bennett, a fellow student. They were on their way back into Austin at approximately 4 a.m. Likewise, Reggie Stephey was driving home from a party in Austin. He was an 18-year-old Lake Travis High School student, and he had been drinking. Along RM 2222, Stephey’s SUV hit the car carrying Jacqueline and her friends as it rounded a bend, killing Bennett (the driver) as well as Laura Guerrero, a 20-year-old UT student. Two other passengers were pulled from the wreckage when the car burst into flames, but Jacqueline was trapped in the front passenger seat. She burned for close to a minute before the paramedics on the scene could dowse the flames. She suffered horrific burns which covered much of her body and spent months in a burn unit in Galveston. Despite emergency surgeries and skin grafts, Jacqueline lost her lips, nose, and ears. She also had to have her eyes sewn shut in order to prevent them from drying out, and her fingers were amputated. Her father became her caregiver.

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