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On September 19, 1999 a young woman was driving home from a birthday party when she was struck by an 18 year old High School student, Reggie Stephy who had been out drinking beer with his buddies. That woman is know by the name Jacqueline Saburido. Jacqueline was in a car with some friends when their vehicle was struck by Reggie's. Jacqueline was pinned in the passenger seat in the front of the vehicle. Within a few minutes the car caught fire and Jacqueline was burned on over 60% of her body. Jacqueline, who is from Venezuela, came to the United States to study English. 

Two of Jacquelines friends, Laura Guerrero and Natalia Chpytchak Bennett were killed in this accident. Jacquelines's hands were so badly burned that she lost the use of them. She also lost her hair, her left eyelid along with much of her vision, her nose and both of her ears. Jacqueline has been through more than 40 operations and is not done yet.

Jacqueline and her father now live in Kentucky where she undergoes skin grafts and specialists are working to rebuild her right hand.  She has also been able to resume her studies.

To find out how you can help Jacqueline click here:


How could ANYONE make it out of this alive?

Jacqueline did!

Jacqueline has very generously lent her story to the state of Texas to be used in a state wide campaign against drunk driving.

It is Jacqueline's hope that her story will deter people from drinking and driving. The campaign features television and printed public service announcements.


Reggie Stephys
At the trial, Jacqueline was curious about Reggie and when she saw him she thought he was handsome. She said she felt sorry for him wondering if he would ever be able to go to college, though she felt he should be held accountable for what he did.  In her words "I wish there was something between guilt and innocence". Reggie had asked the jury for probation so that he could educate young people on the dangers of drinking and driving.

While the jury deliberated, Jacqueline, her family and friends,  agreed to meet with Reggie in a conference room. There she told him that she didn't hate him but he needed to relize that he made a big mistake.  She also told him that she forgives him. Reggie apologized to them all and he hugged each of them, including Jacqueline though she says it was very light, she thought maybe he felt she would break.

In June of 2001, on his 20th birthday, Reggie was found guilty of two counts of intoxication manslaughter. His sentence is to serve seven years in prison and pay a $20,000. fine. To this day, Reggie has never been able to forgive himself for drinking and getting behind the wheel of his vehicle.

Update:
In 2005, Reggie was up for parole and while Jacqueline said she had no problem with him being released, the families of the people who were killed in the accident wanted him to spend every minute of his sentence, behind bars, he was denied parole at that time. Reggie said that he wants to make something of his life:

“I am not going to lay down and let this consume my life. I am going to make something productive and something positive out of it. There’s too much potential to waste in all the lives involved.”

Reggie said that he would go to work when he got out, so that he could go to college. He said that he thinks about his victims all the time:

“I know that the consequences of my actions as a young man, will forever affect five lives, six lives 

Update:
Reggie was released from prison, after serving his seven years, on June 24, 2008.

Reggie had spent most of his time in prison at the Luther Unit near the town of Mavasota. He was taking classes to earn his associate's degree and was later transferred to the Ramsey 1 unit in Rosharon, which is south of Houston. The transfer allowed him to further his education.

During his time in prison, Reggie had no problems and no disciplinary reports at all.

As of todays date, February 22, 2009, I have been unable to find any updates about Jacqueline other than she was hoping to some day return to her home in Venesula. I hope that she was able to do just that.


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