Why We’re Here: Dustin Church


On July 10, 2004, 18-year-old Dustin Church was hanging out with friends when they decided to go on a late-night pizza run. But on the way home, in the short two-mile stretch between the restaurant and the driver’s house, the speeding car ran off the road, hit an embankment and landed upside-down in a Connecticut river.

The driver was an impaired teenager, who had been illegally drinking underage and using drugs. Dustin was in the backseat of the two-door car as it sank into the river.

The two in the front seat survived. But not Dustin. He died trying to get out of the backseat. He died trying to breathe as the car sank deeper. In short, he died trying to live. But he didn’t live, he drowned.

Dustin, known for his fiery red hair and his laughter, had recently graduated high school and was trying to decide what he wanted to do for college. He was considering an acting career. Dustin was well liked by his peers and was always able to find the best in everyone.

Dustin’s mom, Colleen Sheehey-Church said that “for about a year, my husband, our other son and I were heartbroken and lost. Then I called MADD. They saved me.”

As time went on, Colleen and her husband Skip decided they didn’t want to just be victims. They wanted to be a part of the solution and started volunteering with MADD.

Colleen Sheehey-Church is now the newest MADD National President. She will travel the country sharing Dustin’s story and working to put an end to drunk driving.

 Colleen, Dustin and Skip


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