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Why We’re Here: Helen Marie Witty
By MADD | May 2, 2014| 7 Comments | Filed in: Victim Stories , Drugged Driving , Underage Drinking , Drunk Driving

On June 1, 2000 in Miami, Florida, 16-year-old Helen Marie Witty – known as H.M. to her friends and family – decided to take advantage of the sunny afternoon and go rollerblading.  She was on a designated bike path when she was hit and killed by a 17-year-old drunk driver.  Helen Marie died instantly.

The driver spent the afternoon binge drinking and smoking marijuana at a friend's house, before she left in a hurry, heading home in time to get money from her parents before they left town on a trip.  She was traveling 60 mph in a 30 mph speed zone and lost control of the car. Her blood-alcohol level was 0.09 at the scene of the crash.

She was sentenced to 6 years with 10 years’ probation, and was ordered to speak to students while incarcerated.  After her release from prison, she was deported.

Helen Marie was a straight-A student, vice president of her class and belonged to three honor societies.  She was passionate about theater and dreamed of Broadway.  She was planning to direct the opening night of a school play the following night.  Her tragic death devastated the community.

Helen Marie’s mother, also named Helen, says that after the crash, life became instantly incomprehensible.  The emotions were physical and too painful to describe.  But she found a way to manage her grief with the help of faithful friends, through therapy and volunteering with MADD.  After 10 years as a volunteer, she is now a full-time program specialist for MADD Miami Dade County.

Nearly fourteen years later, Helen Marie’s loved ones still gather each year for the Miami Walk Like MADD to celebrate her life and honor her memory.  This past February, Helen Marie’s Hikers was one of the top fundraising teams.

Helen Marie and her mom Helen

Click here to read Helen Witty’s guest blog about surviving Mother’s Day after losing a child.



Submitted by Jeff at 03:04 PM on June 8, 2014
On November 17, 2007 Our only daughter was killed almost instantly in a head-on collision, at a calculated impact of 120 mph, by a drunk driver. He is now in prison serving 15+ years. My daughter was 29, and was in college. We have become a phoenix with the help of God, rising out of the ashes of grief and despair. We have since forgiven this man who killed our daughter, with the help of God. I now do my own presentations about drinking and driving, mostly at schools and have done some at our local Court House as well. I personally don't drink, period. I don't believe in the term or phrase, "responsible drinking". Drinking is irresponsible in itself. It causes one not to think clearly or wisely, by altering your judgement and perception of reality. We are now raising our daughter's son. He was also in the car that night. He was 12 at the time and is now 19 and will never be the same again. He has recovered from most of his numerous physical injuries but his memories of that night may linger for years to come.
Submitted by Jo Jo at 03:21 PM on June 3, 2014
Our heart goes out to you and your family. We know Helen Marie and your son through our daughter, Chloe Russo, who went to New World. Every time we drive our car or ride our bicycle through Red Road, we thought of HM.
Submitted by Casey's Mom at 05:56 PM on May 7, 2014
I think of you all the time, and know that Casey and Helen are watching us and are proud of what we do! Love and miss you!
Submitted by johnny johnson at 02:37 AM on May 7, 2014
My heart goes out to you. I cannot even imagine losing my daughter in this way. I have already lost my son-in-law over 14 years ago to a drunk driver who was a .31 when arrested in Corona Del Mar. CA.
Submitted by Neymar aguaro toure Zlatan at 02:16 AM on May 7, 2014
The drunk driver is an idiot!!!!!
Submitted by Donnabling at 07:48 PM on May 6, 2014
I too lost my son to a drunk driver in June of 2006 a girl celebrating her high school graduation only 3 days before ran a stop sign and slammed into my son on his motorcycle he was only going 15 miles per story is a little different the girls dad brought her home after the accident she was never alcohol tested ,but my son who was dead on the ground was!! And yes, life changes dramatically it took me almost 8 years to feel a little like myself again,our lives as we knew them will never be the same again
Submitted by Sue at 06:09 PM on May 2, 2014
When I read these blogs my heart goes out to you. I nearly lost my daughter on 9/12/2012. She was on the sidewalk on break during her night shift as a RN. She was 24 and run down by an apparent drunk driver who was never caught. She is now disabled with a traumatic brain injury and numerous orthopedic injuries. Her life is a struggle but they didn't think she would survive. It is a different kind of loss but the pain of not thinking I would be with her again was unbearable. My heart goes out to you and your family. Life can be so unfair. When my daughter is doing better I am hoping to volunteer for MADD. This was an eyeopener on how bad and how many are injured or killed by dui drivers.

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