Christmas Eve Tragedy: Drunk Driving Crash Takes Young Mother, Babies

On Christmas Eve this year, Louisiana lost a young family when a 19-year-old mother and

Young man driving car under the influence of alcohol.

On Christmas Eve this year, Louisiana lost a young family when a 19-year-old mother and her infant son were killed in what Louisiana State Police are calling a “fiery crash.” An allegedly drunk driver was fleeing the scene of another accident when she plowed into the back of the young family’s car, rupturing their gas tank, which exploded into flames engulfing both vehicles.

The young mother was pregnant and recently engaged to her fiancé, who was driving their vehicle. Another driver, fleeing a different accident, plowed into their car. The driver of the other vehicle was allegedly impaired at the time of the accident. The impaired driver responsible for the crash exited her vehicle with few injuries while bystanders were able to pull the young mother and her fiancé out of their car. Though CPR was performed on the young mother, both she and her infant son were pronounced dead at the scene.

Blood was drawn from both drivers, and it was determined that the driver of the car that struck the young family was impaired at the time of the accident. She was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, careless operation, and hit and run.

Horrific Tragedy

The loss of this young family is devastating for everyone involved: the young man who lost two children and his future wife, the impaired driver who will have to live with these murders for the rest of her life, the extended family members on both sides who will suffer this loss as well as a poignant reminder of that loss every year on Christmas Eve. It is a terrible reminder to the community of just how high the costs can be when people take risks and get behind the wheel after drinking or doing drugs.

Too often, people say to themselves, “I’ve done it a thousand times; it will be fine.” Or they justify driving after drinking a few over the holidays by saying, “I’ll be okay. I’ve just had a couple, and I need to get home.” They make a valuation call that determines that the risk is worth it. Unfortunately, those choices put the safety of others in jeopardy as well.

Early Warning Signs

A tragedy like this is a clear signifier of a drinking problem that has spiraled out of control. Life-changing – and life-ending – choices made while under the influence make it obvious to everyone involved that it is time to seek treatment. But waiting for people to die in a fiery accident or from an overdose is no way to effectively gauge the severity of a substance use disorder. Rather, family members and friends who see the early warning signs of a substance use disorder are encouraged to take action before tragedy strikes.

Some of these signs include:

  • Blacking out or memory loss during bouts of drug or alcohol use
  • Drinking or getting high alone, in the mornings, on breaks from work, at work, or at other inappropriate times
  • Lying about drinking or drug use to oneself, family members, friends, or coworkers
  • Spending too much on drugs and alcohol
  • Experiencing hangovers frequently
  • Choosing activities based on whether or not it is allowable or easy to be drunk or high

Louisiana in Crisis

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2012, about 5.2 deaths for every 100,000 were caused by a drunk driving accident in Louisiana, a number that is significantly higher than the national average of 3.3 deaths per 100,000. More than 3,000 people died due to an alcohol-related car accident in Louisiana between 2003 and 2012, and that does not include the deaths that were caused by drivers who were under the influence of other substances, including marijuana, opiates, and prescription medications.

About 2.5 percent of adults surveyed in Louisiana reported driving after drinking too much compared to 1.9 percent nationally. For families across the state, this survey highlights the need for a better understanding of the potential for loss and devastation that comes with making the choice to get behind the wheel after drinking. The loss of these lives is horribly tragic, and hopefully their story will mark a turning point for Louisiana when it comes to drinking and driving.

Since joining the Townsend content team, Shlomo has become a thought leader in the addiction field. He is a Seinfeld junkie, a recovering Twitter fanatic, and a sports expert. He enjoys milk shakes and beautiful views from rooftops.