Drunk Driving Victim Addresses Latexo Students
By Will Johnson
LATEXO – The senior and junior high school students of Latexo ISD were given a powerful presentation on the perils of drunk driving – by a victim who survived – during an assembly held on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 2.
The presentation was given by Sean Carter and his mother Jenny Carter.
“When Sean was in high school,” Jenny Carter began, “he could have walked into this gym – just like you did. He could have high-fived his friends, hugged his girlfriend or called me on his cell phone. Sean was the kind of student who liked to challenge his friends to see who could make the best grades.”
She said her son excelled in agricultural mechanics, played football, basketball and track. He was also a model with agents in Dallas and New York City.
“When Sean was 22-years-old, he made a decision to go out drinking one Saturday night with his buddies. He knew that he was going to get drunk. I think that was one of his goals for the evening and yet he didn’t have that important conversation with the driver where he would have said, ‘My life is in your hands,’” J. Carter said.
“On the way home from a couple of bars – we think for everyone of Sean’s drinks, the driver had two – the driver lost control of the truck he was driving. It spun and slammed into a tree and life changed forever,” she said.
Sean’s mother said he was in a 49 day coma and when he emerged from said coma, “Sean was no longer able to walk and he lost all his ability to talk.”
A video was played showing the impact of drunk driving and when it concluded, Sean Carter – seated at a table to his mother’s left – spoke to the student’s using a specially equipped iPad that translated text into voice.
A second video was queued up which showed Sean being cared for by his mother, including changing his diaper. The video was shot 12.5 years ago and depicted “… what his life was like and so you can see the two bars going into his hips, the tube hanging from his stomach and coming out of his throat, the scars going down his belly, his chest and on his arms.”
“Hey – how you doin’?” Sean said in a computer generated voice, as he began. “I’m going to ask all of you to use your imaginations. Imagine me, walking back and forth, waving my arms. Imagine me walking back and forth across a stage and using my arms to make my point. I was invited here to share my message. I sit here looking at you – thinking how I was once just like you.”
He said the events of that night were straight out of a Hollywood screenplay and the results were unthinkable.
“But, the unthinkable did happen. I am no public speaker, however, I suppose it would be more accurate to say I am a public typist. Society glamorizes alcohol so much. What is never shown are the people like me or those who are worse off than me. Hi, my name is Sean Carter and I suffered a traumatic brain injury when I was 22-years-old. I am now 34,” he said.
“I was attending college at a small university here in Texas. I was juggling classes, work and girls. Like the other guys I knew at the time, we would go out and have a few beers. Like grown-ups say, ‘If I only knew then, what I know now.’ Boy, is that statement ever true for me. If I knew then the decision I made the night of March 27, 2005 would affect the rest of my life – leaving me unable to walk or talk freely – you can bet I would not have done what I did,” he said.
“My mom had always told me not to drink and drive and not to ride with anyone that had been. For some people, getting drunk is viewed as one of the most important things you do while in college. Dis it help me achieve my goals? Honestly, for the first few years after the crash, it made all my goals seem impossible,” he added.
He said he began drinking while he was in high school. Sean explained he and his friends would go out and have “pasture parties” or go over to a friend’s house when his or her parents were away.
He said he spent his 21st birthday in New York City where he was hoping to break into the “big time” world of modeling. After living in NYC for four months, Sean said he decided to come back home to Texas and finish college.
Shortly after returning to school, Sean said he and two of his buddies had gone out drinking. He explained his mistake was getting in the truck and not realizing how much the driver had consumed.
“Not five minutes from my apartment, the driver lost control of his truck. It spun and slammed into a tree on the passenger side. That was where I was sitting. Luckily, the fire department was close. They arrived on the scene quickly and had to use the ‘jaws of life’ to cut me out of the truck,” he said as he explained he could still not recall the events of that night and this was what he had been told.
His mom picked up the story at this point and said “… the truck kind of folded around the tree. Sean’s entire right side was shattered. He now has a nail inside of his femur. At the end of the femur is round bone that goes into the hip socket and it now has four screws in it. His pelvis was shattered. His bladder was ruptured. His liver and spleen were both torn. His right lung collapsed. His right arm was shattered and now has a plate and screws in it. Both of his collarbones were broken. All of those injuries have healed but the one thing that hasn’t been able to overcome was the traumatic brain injury. That is why Sean can’t talk and why it took him 10 years to learn how to walk again using a walker.”
Sean resumed his story and said he strongly considered taking his own life, but was helpless to do so.
“The truth was, I couldn’t figure out how. Not because I didn’t want to but because there was np physical way for me to do it. I thought about filling a bathtub with water and dropping a toaster in it. But what good with that do? I couldn’t get myself into the tub. I couldn’t carry the toaster into the bathroom or plug it in. I couldn’t even turn the water on,” he said.
Eventually the Carters were put in touch with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension who helped establish a non-profit organization, Sean Speaks, Inc.
According to the organization’s website, “The organization is dedicated to spreading the word of how important it is to think before you get behind the wheel of a car. It is just as important to be careful of whose car you get into as a passenger. Sean and his Mom, Jenny, have taken their message to tens of thousands of young people to help prevent drunk driving and to make people aware of the consequences of their choices.”
For more information, please visit www.seanspeaks.com.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.