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Victim of drunk driver to speak at June 1 virtual event

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Kristen Mallory spends most of her time in a wheelchair these days – a constant reminder of the accident that nearly claimed her life almost eight years ago.

Kristen, who was 16 at the time, and her mother, Susan, were headed to their home in Chesterfield County, Virginia, the night of June 9, 2013 when their vehicle was struck by a drunk driver. Kristen was severely injured and continues to struggle with the physical and emotional pain caused by that incident. Despite the many challenges she’s now faced with, Kristen works every day to share her story to help prevent others from being harmed by drinking and driving.

“I don’t remember the actual impact of the crash, but I remember very well being stuck in the car with the dashboard pushed into my lap,” she says. “I remember the complete terror of not seeing or feeling my legs and I remember screaming at the top of my lungs for the firemen not to let me die.”

“It was absolutely the most terrifying experience of my life,” adds Kristen.

The Giles Youth-Adult Partnership (GYAP) will host a virtual presentation featuring Kristen on Tuesday, June 1 at 7:00 p.m. The event will be streamed live via the GYAP Facebook page (facebook.com/gilesyap). This is being conducted as part of the “Communities Talk to Prevent Underage Drinking” initiative led by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“We intentionally planned this event for the week of graduation at Narrows and Giles High Schools,” notes GYAP member Mike Wade. “It’s a time when young people want to celebrate and have fun with their classmates, but we hope hearing Kristen’s story will help them avoid taking the risk of ruining their future by drinking and driving.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 28 people in the U.S. die each day in drunk-driving crashes. That’s one person every 52 minutes. Despite what most people may think, Wade says even small amounts of alcohol can affect driving ability and cause fatal accidents. The NHTSA reports that in 2018, a total of 1,878 people were killed in accidents where the drivers had Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels that were within legal limits.

“Consuming alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal and so is driving while impaired,” Wade continues. “It’s a no-win situation that can cost a young person their future and it puts others at risk.”

Kristen, along with her parents, have founded a non-profit to help spread awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. The mission of Mallory’s Movement Against Drunk Driving is to reduce the number of individuals and families impacted by drunk driving through direct education efforts and by educating drivers, future/potential drivers, and passengers about the dangers of driving impaired, or being a passenger with an impaired driver.

“Our hope is that parents and students will tune in and watch as a family and that it causes them to have those important conversations about alcohol use and staying safe,” Wade says.

“Believe it or not, parents have significant influence in their children’s decision to experiment with alcohol or other drugs,” he continues. “So, when parents talk about things like underage drinking and substance use – and avoid lecturing or threatening but come from a place of love and concern – our kids really do listen.”

The Giles Youth-Adult Partnership is a coalition of community leaders and citizens whose mission is to prevent substance abuse and misuse through collaborative partnerships and actions that create safe and healthy communities. Parents, youth and concerned community members are invited to join and participate. GYAP meetings are currently being conducted via Zoom and are held on the second Monday of each month at 10 a.m. For more information, contact Mike Wade at mwade@nrvcs.org.

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