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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

MADD Pays Tribute To Drunk Driving Victims In 'Day of Remembrance'

In an emotional and informative gathering, Mothers Against Drunk Driving paid tribute to victims of drunken driving accidents.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers’ (MADD) Southern California division hosted their first-ever “Day of Remembrance” today. The event, held at the Toyota USA Automative Museum, brought together victims of drunken driving accidents to tell their stories and pay tribute to their injured or departed loved ones.

“It is an opportunity to honor victims, and to remind people that MADD always has a place for victims,” regional executive director Patricia Rillera said.

In one such case, a courageous man named Josh Jahn shared his tale about his entire family—his wife and two children—who were killed tragically in 2008 by a drunken driver.

“Today I’m here to introduce to you some people that can’t be with me in the room, but they’re with me every day,” he said. “At this holiday season, I do want to express my gratitude and all the support that I’ve received, not only from MADD but from other people—other victims.”

Debbie Weir, the national CEO of MADD, said that there were over a hundred “Day of Remembrance” events happening across the country Thursday.

“We’re letting victims and survivors know that they are not alone, that their pain and suffering has not been forgotten,” Weir said.

Over 10,000 people every year are killed and another 290,000 are injured as a result of drunk driving, MADD said in a press release.

That problem is even worse during the holidays, Rillera said. “Between the dates of Thanksgiving and New Years, there are more drunken driving deaths than any other time of the year,” she said.

Weir added that the “Day of Remembrance” takes place during the month of December because, during the holiday season, “It hurts even more [for victims], which is unimaginable. You think about bringing your families together and there’s that empty place at the table,” she said.

“Countless loved ones are left behind to cope with these tragedies and
 rebuild their lives,” MADD said in a statement. “Day of Remembrance is a chance for communities across the nation to come together and offer support and comfort to those who need it during the holidays and beyond.''

Rillera pointed out the importance of finding safe ways home from holiday parties and festivities. She said that it is important—for people who are beginning to celebrate—to make sure you either have a non-drinking designated driver or other pre-planned accommodations.

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