Editor’s note: The following message was shared by a resident of Tracy, California, who said she was compelled to contact as many people as she could reach this Easter weekend, the 25th anniversary of her life-changing experience.
My name is Lori Martin and I am from Tracy, California. I was hit head-on by a drunken driver in 1992. I was just 16.
Why did this happen? I had friends everywhere, wonderful grades, and was active on two high school sport teams. I had much to accomplish.
But on Easter weekend 1992 my priorities changed. I had to worry about staying alive.
It took about 40 minutes for rescuers, using the Jaws of Life, to free me from my crushed car. Medi-Flight flew me to St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton.
About an hour after I was supposed to be home from work, my dad started looking for me. My parents simply guessed the car broke down.
Then Dad saw the mangled car and knew their assumptions were wrong.
At the site of the crash, a former CHP officer told him I was OK and a helicopter had flown me to a hospital in Stockton.
My dad rushed home, picked up my mom and they drove to St. Joseph’s.
My worried parents found out most of the injuries I had: A swollen brain, several damaged bones, collapsed left lung, two cracked ribs, torn tendons, multiple fractures, a lacerated liver, paralysis. I was in a coma.
“I’m sorry. It does not look good,” a doctor told them.
I fought for my life.
Two weeks after the crash, the driver of the car that hit me made a court appearance. The judge told him to return in two weeks with a Spanish translator. He never did.
During these weeks, police found out his blood alcohol level at the crash was .24, three times the legal limit of .08.
Being hit by a drunken driver ironically, made me stronger.
I overcame the odds by surviving.
After 33 days in intensive care at St. Joseph’s, an ambulance transported me to Golden State Rehabilitation Hospital in San Ramon. After four months, I broke from my coma and my days and nights were filled with therapy.
After I started to talk, people noticed that sometimes I had to read lips to communicate with someone.
Doctors figured the high fever resulting from the crash killed and injured some hearing cells. Others were not harmed. This affects me a great deal.
After six months at Golden State Rehab, I went home. I then spent 17 months relearning to talk clearly, walk and live independently at San Jose and Tracy. I now perform these tasks unaided.
In an instant my story could become your story. It can happen to anyone. Keeping drunken drivers off the roads is my goal.
Maybe this story of what happened to me will hit you harder than the fear of the DUI laws.
Driving after drinking too often is a life-changing event – for the one drinking and those who cross his or her path. Trust me, I know.
Lori Martin lives in Tracy, California.