Houston mother drives car covered with images of drunk driving victims to raise awareness

Michelle Taylor’s daughter was a San Antonio nurse killed in a drunk-driving crash

Houston – A Houston mother is on a mission to raise awareness about drunk driving right ahead of the New Year. She lost her daughter in August after a suspected drunk driver crashed head-on into her vehicle.

Michelle Taylor is the mother of Daniela Lute, 25, a registered nurse who had a major impact on the community.

Since that fatal crash, Taylor has been the voice of Lute.

“It has been tough every single day,” Taylor said. “Luckily I have a job where I help people everyday as a dental assistant. I make people feel better and that keeps me going. My daughter’s goal in life was always to help others, so I, every single day I am doing this for her.”

Lute was the light of Taylor’s life.

“She was an extremely caring and loving person,” Taylor said. “So, for me, living up to how I raised her and how she lived her life is my way of making her proud.”

She said her mission is to bring awareness to a problem that has impacted so many.

“I have to do this,” Taylor said. “I want to let people know why drinking and driving is not appropriate or acceptable. This has impacted so many, not just by taking lives, but by injuring people for the rest of their lives. For me, it is making the difference and hoping I would get one person to call a Lyft or an Uber... and remember that there are people suffering out there like me.”

Taylor said it has taken a long time for her to get her life back focused and to stay strong.

In the beginning of her mission, Taylor wrapped images of her daughter on her car.

“You know, I live in Houston,” she said. “And traffic is horrible every day. I would be in traffic jams. It made me think of this wonderful lady I know who placed Christmas trees in her front yard and memorialized victims of impaired driving. I was taken by that and I thought that was so amazing to think of something like that.”

Taylor didn’t stop with just the image of her daughter’s face on her car.

“I didn’t want people to forget what they lost,” Taylor said. “A nurse, a caregiver, and amazing person. I didn’t want her to be just a statistic. None of these victims are just statistics. The pain that these family members go through is immense. For me, I carry them on my car because I want people to see who they are. What they look like. They have faces. They have names. They have lived. They have impacted so many people in a positive way.”

Taylor said every time she walks to her car, she prays for the many victims on her car and prays for their families because she knows how they feel.

She said it’s like ripping off a Band-Aid every time she sees another mother lose a child in this way.

The latest mother to be added to that list is a woman who lost her newborn baby after San Antonio police said Gerardo Lozano drove through a red light and crashed into her.

“I can only tell you that it breaks my heart because the shock this poor mother is going to go through will be with her for the rest of her life,” Taylor said. “The pain never goes away. That pain feels like pure hell on Earth. It is so deep, and she is going to need a lot of love from the community and her family to be able to move forward in her life. My heart truly goes out to her and if she ever needs to reach out for someone to talk to, I’ll be there for her.”

Taylor said it was lost of prayers and being a part of the MADD Victim Services.

“That will help guide her emotionally through this new life she has to start,” she said.

Taylor wants the images on her car to remind other drivers of what could happen if they make the mistake of driving while impaired.

“I think a lot of these people who do this need help,” Taylor said. “I feel that with the stresses in life, people reach out for the wrong help whether it is alcohol or substances. They think it will help but it doesn’t. Obviously, it makes things worse.”

Taylor strongly believes to drink and drive takes a conscious effort.

“To put a drink to your lips,” she said. “To order a drink. To pay for the drink. To get in that car. To start the car and start driving. It is not an accident! It is possible to make a better decision. I just want you to close your eyes and think about who you love the most and if they are gone because of this preventable act. How would you feel?”

In honor of Lute, the San Antonio Indian Nurses Association is presenting several scholarships at a gala scheduled January 8.

“I am so honored they considered this,” Taylor said. “She was a nurse. She loved her profession. I am just so honored that I am going to be there. I am so happy people are remembering my baby because she was so special.”

Taylor said as she continues to stand up against drunk driving, she would have this to say if she could speak to her daughter one more time.

“I am so proud of you,” she said as she wept. “God blessed me with a bundle of joy. He blessed with you being my child for 25 years. You have made me a better version of me, and I will be until the day I die. I will see you again. I will make her proud until I see her again. I love you with all of my heart. My pride and joy is not here anymore and I will never have grandchildren, but I have you and your chihuahua and I will take care of him and keep him safe forever.”

About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray joined 10 News as an anchor in March 2022.