Victim of drunk driving crash warns drivers to think before making a life-changing decision

TxDOT: More than 100 people have been killed in DUI alcohol crashes in last two years

SAN ANTONIO – Ana Licia Zarate says a drunk driver robbed her of precious memories with her mother in November 2000.

A drunk driver hit her mother, Nereida Flores Garza, and then 4-year old Zarate.

Zarate was in the hospital for one month.

“I grew up basically my whole life without a mom. And so, it was kind of difficult, especially like in the transition from, like, little kid to, you know, a young woman. I didn’t have that role model,” she said.

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Now, the first-time mother wants to share her story in hopes of saving someone’s life. She wants drivers to make the right decision to let someone else drive or to not get in a vehicle with an impaired driver.

“My hope is if I can save one person, one family, I’ve done justice for myself and for my mother and my family,” Zarate said.

Texas Department of Transportation data shows that in 2017, 2,021 crashes in Bexar County involved alcohol, and 53 people were killed in those crashes. In 2018, 52 people were killed in 2,051 crashes.

Natalie Paulus, with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said Bexar County ranks third in the state with the highest number of DUI-related deaths and crashes behind Dallas and Harris counties.

“It’s a lot of the same story, just with different people involved. And the saddest part about these stories is that it’s 100% preventable. These deaths, these injuries, do not have to occur,” Paulus said.

There are a number of options to get home after drinking, she said, and people need to have a plan.

“It comes down to each individual taking accountability for their actions, not driving after they’ve been drinking and not going into a car with a driver who has been drinking,” Paulus said.

Zarate said the driver who killed her mother and injured her served two years of a 10-year prison sentence and was later arrested again following another alcohol-related crash.

Victims and families of victims impacted by drunk drivers can call MADD’s 24-hour victim help line at 877-MADD-HELP (6224-4357).

Click here for information on how you can plan to get a ride home safely.

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