Ella Solecki Finalist Never Drink and Drive Scholarship

CALIFORNIA — The following essay was submitted to Johnson Attorneys Group for the 2023 Never Drink and Drive Scholarship Competition. The winner will be chosen by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and announced later this month.

Essay by Ella Solecki

The snow was beautiful. The fat flakes fell down gracefully, moving in slow motion as they touched down on the sides of the road. I pressed my nose to the window, taking in the wonder of the moment as we continued down the highway toward the mountains.

I looked back towards my mom in the driver’s seat to comment on the scenery when all of a sudden time seemed to stop. I looked up to find a car hurling at us and remembered thinking,

“Why is it on the wrong side of the road?” before it slammed into us, crushing my mom’s sternum in two and leaving me with a large amount of emotional trauma. Later, the truth was discovered; they had been drinking and driving.

Drunk driving is a serious problem in our society that takes the lives of around 32 people
per day. My mom and I were lucky; we didn’t lose our lives that day, but the trauma of the
accident and the injuries sustained because of it are something we will carry with us forever.
Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.

I live in a college town notorious for its partying, so local news sources flood with obituaries of those who have been killed in drunk driving accidents. Friends and family members in my community stop being a part of our daily lives, and become statistics instead. In a moment, lives are forever shattered because someone else failed to make a responsible decision. This needs to stop. Educating people about the dangers of drunk driving, sharing stories, and doing programs such as “Every 15 Minutes” at schools are critical in taking steps towards reducing the amount of drunk driving in communities. Acknowledging the
issue and presenting solutions is essential if we want to see change.

I can still remember the words the driver of the car spoke to us after he ran over to our
totaled car. “I’m so sorry, it all happened so fast”. Fast. A key word that goes to show just how
quickly a situation can escalate, and just how quickly a bad decision habit can turn into
something much worse.

We can fix how we make decisions, but we can’t fix the lasting damage they have caused to the victims and their family and friends. The sadness the family will carry for the rest of their lives and the guilt by whoever hit them isn’t worth the risk. For the safety of everyone out there; pedestrians, drivers, bikers, and others, please make a smart decision and don’t drink and drive.

Learn more about Johnson Attorneys Group scholarship opportunities on our website.

James Johnson

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