Ryder Trauma Center kicked off its 20th anniversary with survivors and victims of drunk driving Wednesday.
Helen Witty, whose 16-year-old daughter was killed while rollerblading in 2000 by a teenage drunk driver, knows all too well how drunk driving shatters lives.
“Don't drink and drive,” she said. “I would say every time you get behind that wheel, know what you're doing. There's no such thing as a drunk driving accident. No one gets in a car by accident, so make sure that you are completely sober and make sure you understand the consequences of sudden violent death.”
Witty now speaks for Mothers Against Drunk Driving to help educate others about the dangers of drunk driving and how it destroys lives.
“We're not telling people not to drink,” said MADD member Janet Mondshein. “We prefer people not to drink and drive and to designate a sober driver before they leave their house so that they're prepared, or to have cab money. But we just don't want anybody who is drunk on the roads.”
Doctors at Ryder Trauma have also seen their share of victims of drunk driving over the last 20 years.
“Every single one of them stays with you after all these years,” said Ryder’s Chief of Trauma Dr. Nicholas Namias. “Trauma surgeons carry around a bag of memories that aren't all good.”
Wednesday’s ceremony, where survivors thanked doctors for saving their lives, also included an opportunity for participants to see and feel what it's like to be under the influence with the help of special goggles. The goggles simulate a .12 or above blood alcohol level.
The City of Miami Police Department's BATMobile, which stands for breath alcohol test, was also at the hospital. The BATMobile is the truck present at DUI checkpoints.