What could it
hurt to have a couple drinks and drive?
Guest speaker talks about what life can be
like when one survives a drunken driving accident
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[July 25, 2017]
- On Wednesday night, around a dozen people met at the Abraham
Lincoln Memorial Hospital to attend a Victim Impact Panel. The
panel, which was led by Dan Hicks, consisted of a brief talk and a
series of photos concerning the consequences of drinking and driving
under the influence of alcohol.
Hicks works with SIU to promote awareness of the dangers of drinking
and driving, and he visits many schools and hospitals in central
Illinois. Hicks said he recently passed twenty-seven years since he
himself was involved in a single-car accident after he and his
friends had been drinking. Shortly after his accident, he began to
work with the school to spread awareness and knowledge to prevent
others from making the same choice.
Hicks suffered head and spinal trauma, resulting in short-term
memory issues and paralysis below the waist. Hicks also said that
after the accident, he spent nearly a month in a coma. Hicks was the
only survivor of the accident. Hicks said he thinks a lot about the
family members his friends left behind. “Some of them still drink,”
Hicks went into detail on aspects of his everyday life since he was
paralyzed. He showed pictures of his home, where he needs ramps to
get inside, and has to use an extended grabber to reach objects on
high shelves. Hicks also showed pictures of his car dashboard, which
has attachments to help press the acceleration and brake pedals,
since he cannot use his feet.
“They had to teach me how to do everything in a wheelchair,” said
Hicks. Hicks said he had to learn how to move about in his
wheelchair, and how to get in and out of it around his home. Hicks
also said he is lucky he can get in and out of his chair without
help, as he has met people who become completely paralyzed after
drinking and driving and getting into an accident. He said that even
everyday conversation is completely different in a wheel chair,
because sitting in the chair makes him look shorter.
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Hicks said that while he still has the use of his hands, other
victims he has met as part of these panels are not so lucky. He talked about the
people who, because they are quadriplegics, need help with everything, including
bathing themselves and getting dressed every day.
Hicks also emphasized the emotional impact of drunk driving on
family members and friends if someone passes away because of an accident. Hicks
said that whenever he talks to family members who have lost someone this way,
the children are the most confused. “They don’t know or understand why that
person is gone,” he said.
Hicks also said that he attends funerals of people who pass away because of
drunk driving. “These are people that have to be put in a coffin because they
chose to get behind the wheel,” said Hicks.
Throughout the panel, Hicks emphasized several times that it is never a good
decision to get in a vehicle while intoxicated, or with a driver who is
intoxicated. “Your luck will eventually run out,” said Hicks.
Everyone who attended the panel was given a list of resources in Illinois,
including various health facilities, rehabilitation centers, locations and dates
for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and wellness centers. Additionally, everyone
was handed a certificate of attendance.