Events in my life have taught me about a personal power that I call, “Inner Permission.” Inner permission comes from my core belief that we are meant to be happy. It means allowing ourselves to find happiness by using courage and hope to make a fearless, positive stand against the many conditions in our external world that say, “You can’t!”
After signing a Nashville contract as a singer in the 1980s, a drunk driver’s selfish actions said, “You can’t have that dream!” Because of a head injury I suffered in the crash, I lost my ability to sing. As ecstatic as I had been to sign my contract, I was just as devastated to lose it.
I examined my deepest feelings and options. I discovered that it is music that I love and believe in, and that music involves much more than singing. So I decided that if I could no longer be a singer, I would become an instrumentalist.
I went to a music store, purchased a flute and a book on how to play the flute, and then dedicated the next six months to learning how to play. I practiced four to six hours every single day, and then called my agent. “Here’s what I’m going to do,” I informed him. “I’m going to become the world’s only country music flutist!”
Can you guess what he said? “You can’t! Nobody will want to hear that!” But, I gave myself permission and went for it.
I now perform at national concerts and have three successful CDs. I am on iTunes in more than 23 countries, even hitting the charts. I also perform motivational concerts, delivering my message of inner permission, and sharing my journey of not just surviving a drunk driver’s thoughtless actions, but actually thriving in spite of him!
Share Your Story
If you are a victim or survivor of a drunk or drugged driving crash and would like to share your inspiring story, visit madd.org/tributes.
It was 9:30 p.m. on November 18, 2011. The traffic light had just turned green as Fran and Steve Granado moved through the intersection in Sierra Vista, Arizona, when their pickup truck was violently hit from behind. The blow caused the backs of their heads to hit the glass in the truck’s rear window, shattering in into pieces.
Fran recalls thinking, “I thought we had been shot at.”
The couple was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital. Fran suffered trauma to her head and a blow to the left side of her face. Steve, who had to be loaded into his ambulance on a stretcher, had sustained injuries to his neck, lower back and left leg. They were released the next morning with orders to attend physical therapy for their injuries.
The driver who hit Fran and Steve was charged with a DUI the night of the crash. However, Fran and Steve were shocked to find out that the police report indicated the Granados had sustained only minor injuries. Their injuries were much more than “minor.”
After several weeks of physical therapy and no word about the case from authorities, Fran decided to go to the police station to try and get some answers. She was told they could not give her any information because the case was pending a grand jury. Fran periodically checked back and each time was told the same thing. When she asked if she could meet with the police officer in charge of her case, she was denied. They waited to be notified of the court hearing but no word came.
More than a year had passed and Fran and Steve were exhausted from trying to get justice for what happened to them. Their attorney couldn’t get any answers either, and the Granados grew frustrated. They were victims of the crash, and now, as Fran shared, “we were victims of our injuries and victims of neglect [of justice].”
Then, Fran contacted MADD Arizona and spoke with Victim Services Manager Jason Frazier about their case. He tried tirelessly to get justice for the Granados, and was eventually able to find out that the offender in their case had already been to court. She had plea bargained her case and had been sentenced. Their case was closed and could not be reopened. The Granados had been denied their right to appear in court to give their statement to the judge. They were completely left in the dark.
This past November – three years after the crash – the Granados were granted mediation on their case. Fran shared that she is still in disbelief that all this has happened. The offender in their case never showed any remorse for the crash she caused that severely injured the Granados, while Fran and Steve are reminded daily of that night. They both have anxiety. Fran has headaches daily, experiences pain in her shoulders and has difficulty walking for long periods. Steve has not been able to work full time since the crash and no longer drives. He is now seeing a psychologist to help him deal with the trauma of that night.
“We are still struggling with all the emotional damage of that night, even though it cannot be seen,” says Fran.
The couple says that MADD has been the only organization who has been able to shed light on their situation. Steve’s advice to anyone who is a victim of a drunk or drugged driving crash: “Call MADD first.”
This week is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to recognize those who have been impacted by crime and renew our efforts to make sure these victims receive justice. This year’s theme, Engaging Communities. Empowering Victims, emphasizes the role of the entire community, individually and collectively, as we support victims of crime and empower them to direct their own recovery. You can help by becoming a MADD Victim Advocate or by spreading the word about MADD Victim Services.
MADD is one of the largest victim services organizations in the country, working to ensure that victims' rights are maintained, as well as providing support for victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving. We have more than 1,000 trained victim advocates nationwide, as well as our 24-hour Help Line available to provide victims with the support they need, when they need it most. And we want to serve as many victims as possible...until there are no more victims left to serve.
That’s why this week, in honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, we are pleased to announce two new online tools for victims and survivors to find support.
We just created a new Facebook Group exclusively for victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving. The purpose of this new Group is to provide an online forum for victims and survivors to connect, share, and seek support. If you are a victim or survivor of drunk and/or drugged driving, please join our MADD Victim Services Facebook Group by clicking here and asking to join.
Please remember this Group is intended only for victims and survivors. If you are not a victim or survivor, we hope you will join us on our Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Facebook page.
We are also proud to announce that we have implemented a new online chat feature on our website, which provides another way for victims of drunk and drugged driving crashes to contact MADD Victim Services when they are in need of assistance. The live chat can be found on the MADD homepage and the Victim Services page and is generally available Monday through Friday, during regular business hours. If for some reason a Victim Services staff member is unavailable, you can leave a message in the chat box and your question will then be emailed and answered by a Victim Services Advocate as soon as they are available to respond.
If you are a victim or survivor, we hope you will take advantage of these new healing tools to connect with other victims and survivors, or if you are in need or support. You can also help us spread the word about these new tools to any victims or survivors you know.
Taylor Pirc was only four years old when she was killed by a repeat drunk driving offender. Taylor and her Grandma were on their way to take food to Taylor’s great-grandmother, who was sick. They were driving through a busy intersection when a car coming from the other direction and swerving from lane to lane turned too soon. He hit the median and came down on the back half of the car where Taylor was sitting.
After the crash, the drunk driver was convicted, but he immediately appealed. The conviction was overturned due to a technicality and a re-trial was scheduled. The re-trial was declared a mistrial, but an appellate court deemed it was possible to again re-try. Now, close to six years later, it went to trial once again, and he was convicted and sentenced to the maximum punishment of 14 years.
Throughout all of the court cases, Taylor’s mother Cristy was there for every hearing – even if was just to postpone it until another day. When sentencing came, she was allowed to read her victim impact statement in the courtroom, but other family members were not—they were only allowed to write letters to the judge. Several family members who wanted to speak were never given that opportunity.
On top of the long, drawn-out court case, Cristy and her family were verbally attacked by the defendant’s family in the halls of the courthouse. A re-victimization that no victim should have to go through when trying to get justice for a loved one.
In 2014, Cristy’s state amended its crime victim’s bill of rights to include several changes, including a victim’s right to be heard at any court proceeding involving a post-arraignment release decision, plea or sentencing. They also included a victim’s right to be free from harassment, intimidation and abuse throughout the criminal trial process.
These two amendments weren’t available to Cristy and her family when they went through the criminal justice process, but their experience highlights just how important these rights are and how vital it is that victims are notified of their rights so that they can exercise them. Cristy now encourages every victim to educate themselves about what their rights are so that they can make sure their voice is heard.
MADD Victim Advocates help victims and survivors in a variety of ways, including letting them know what their rights are, advocating on their behalf in the criminal justice process, and attending court with them. If you or a loved one has been impacted by a drunk or drugged driving crash and would like to speak with a MADD Victim Advocate, please call the MADD Help Line at 1-877-623-3435 or 1-877-MADD-HELP to speak with someone right away.
This week is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to recognize those who have been impacted by crime and renew our efforts to make sure these victims receive justice. This year’s theme, Engaging Communities. Empowering Victims, emphasizes the role of the entire community, individually and collectively, as we support victims of crime and empower them to direct their own recovery. You can help by volunteering as a MADD Victim Advocate or by spreading the word about MADD Victim Services.
The MADD Help Line, 1-877-MADD-HELP, is available 24/7 for victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes because of dedicated volunteers—volunteers like JD Dunphy.
In 2011, a drunk driver, nearly three times over the legal limit driving on the wrong side of the highway, hit JD’s granddaughter, Taylyn, head on. She was on her way home from a restaurant where she was celebrating her 22nd birthday with friends. Although she was pronounced dead at the scene, his granddaughter was revived in the helicopter transporting her to the hospital. She was in a coma for a month, in the hospital for 7 months and has had 24 surgeries to date.
After the crash, JD was compelled to get involved. Now, he’s been volunteering for MADD for close to three years, and for two years he has been taking calls on the Help Line from victims around the country on Saturdays and Sundays.
Through his Help Line experience, JD says he has learned that drunk and drugged driving crashes are much more widespread and devastating to families than he ever realized. He says that the real truth is that each crash can affect hundreds of people; almost 400 people came out to support his granddaughter at an event after her crash.
“Most of us watch the news and see a tragedy and then change the channel,” JD says. “It really hit home with my granddaughter’s crash how devastating, widespread and all-encompassing it is. The mental, emotional and financial effect on family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances is huge.”
When he speaks to people on the Help Line, he says the most important thing he wants people to know is that MADD can help. When people need counseling, help with funeral expenses, information about hiring an attorney or what their rights are, a MADD Victim Advocate will work to try to find those resources and provide that information.
JD says that he has come to realize that so many people just don’t know where to turn, and when they get someone who will listen and who cares about them, they are so thankful. And we are thankful for volunteers like JD.
Click here to learn more about the Victim/Survivor Help Line and MADD Victim Services. To be put in touch with a MADD Victim Advocate in your area or if you need to speak with someone as soon as possible, call MADD's Victim/Survivor Help Line at 1-877-MADD-HELP (877-623-3435) or send us an email at email@example.com.