Voices of Victims - Why We're Here

Voices of Victims

Why We’re Here: Krystal Foster

On December 17, 2004, Krystal Foster’s husband Chris and daughter Raven picked her up from work at 10:30 p.m. Thirteen minutes later, they were hit by an underage drunk driver.

The driver was high on drugs and had a BAC that was twice the legal limit. He was driving the wrong way on the freeway at 110 miles per hour – and hit their car head on. Krystal was not expected to live through the night. She was in a coma for the next 30 days. It was only after she awoke that she found out what happened...

Christopher, the love of her life, died on the way to the hospital. Krystal was still in a coma when they held his funeral.

Krystal’s daughter Raven suffered traumatic brain injury and shock. At only five years old, she saw her step-dad die in front of her and her mother critically injured.  Krystal was also pregnant at the time of the crash, but the impact caused a miscarriage.

“When I woke up 30 days later to find out my husband was gone, I lost our child and my daughter had been hurt and without me or her step-dad, I was inconsolable,” Krystal said.

When Krystal woke up from the coma, she received the care package from MADD along with a “We Care Card.” “It was really a huge blessing to me,” Krystal says.

Krystal’s life was totally changed forever that night. And in the last 10 years since the crash, Krystal has received continued support from MADD to help deal with those changes. She has used MADD’s online victim services tools to connect with other victims and survivors. She found guidance to help her deal with survivor’s guilt and cope with her injury.

Krystal says that being a police dispatcher and helping victims of drunk driving crashes and working for the community, she never thought that she would be a victim. But we know that two out of three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.

Krystal now volunteers with MADD Ohio and shares her story of loss and how she and her daughter Raven have defied the odds and overcame their injuries.

If you are interested in becoming a MADD volunteer to share your story or help further MADD’s mission, you can learn more or sign up at madd.org/volunteer.

Why We’re Here: Ryan Smith

On May 23, 2002, 20-year-old Ryan Smith was picking up his sister and two friends from a high school play. At 9:00 p.m., Ryan’s mother Lory Gleason heard the doorbell ring; it was her neighbor telling her that there had been a “serious accident,” and he recognized Ryan’s car.

“Ryan loved his car. He had it all fixed up,” Lory said. “He would work for hours on it in our garage. It was one of his hobbies.” But when Lory and her husband arrived at the scene, they found Ryan’s car mangled in the middle of the intersection.

As they watched rescue workers and paramedics try to get the kids out of the car, the police told Lory what happened. A drunk driver ran a red light and then tried to run from the scene. “This car accident now became a crash,” Lory says. “As there is nothing accidental about drunk driving.”

Lory’s daughter and two friends were seriously injured. Two hours later, Ryan passed away in the emergency room.

The driver who killed Ryan Smith was a four-time repeat offender with a suspended license. The night of the crash, his BAC was over three times the legal limit. He was convicted of 2nd degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter, DUI with great bodily injury to multiple victims, hit and run and driving on a suspended license. He is now serving 27 ½ years to life.

“I thought I was going to die of a broken heart,” she says. “I didn’t know if I could survive another day.” But Lory made a choice…to face her grief head on and to make a difference in memory of Ryan.  So she became a MADD volunteer, and she now leads the MADD California – Riverside County Chapter.

Click here to see Ryan’s tribute page where you can leave a comment or make a donation in his honor.

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