August 9, 2002 was supposed to be a special day for 27-year-old Angie Bass. She was recently married and was looking forward to celebrating her honeymoon that night. On her way to drop off her son Zack at school, a drunk driver traveling at 85 miles per hour crashed into their car, leaving Angie and Zack in critical condition. The following day, seven-year-old Zack died from his injuries.
The driver, a repeat offender with a BAC of 0.17 and also under the influence of both prescription and illicit drugs, proceeded to hit a second car before his truck came to a stop in the embankment. He was convicted of 2nd degree murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. He sustained no major injuries from the crash.
Although Angie survived her injuries, she carries the burden of physical and emotional pain every day. “There is no greater loss than the loss of a loved one,” she says, “Zack was an extraordinary child.”
Zack was a loving and fearless child, and was very smart for his age. He loved to play soccer and had dreams of becoming a fireman or artist. Angie says, “He made every single day a wonderful day to treasure and had a way of making everyone around him feel special.”
After the crash, MADD provided victim services to Angie and her family, including assistance navigating the legal system, as well as court accompaniment during the trial and supportive literature that she credits for helping her learn to cope with the tragedy.
Today, Angie and many other members of Zack’s family are still a part of MADD. They attend local MADD events like victim support groups and victim tributes. Angie continues to help spread awareness of the dangers of drunk and drugged driving by sharing her personal experience. “I would share my story a million times in the hopes of saving one life the pain that my family and I endure,” she says.
On July 8, 2011, sixteen-year-old Aaron Carrillo and his friend Jon were stopped on the shoulder to help their friend Mark, whose car had stalled on the highway. The teens were members of a Christian rock band and were on their way home from playing a show.
The drunk driver, who was traveling on the shoulder of the highway at 70 mph, never applied the brakes when he crashed into Mark’s car. Mark and Jon were inside the car and Aaron was standing outside. Aaron was killed instantly and Jon was taken to the hospital where he later died. Mark survived his injuries, but now lives each day with the horrific memory of his friends’ deaths.
Aaron was a vibrant young man who lived life to its fullest and excelled in everything he set his mind to do. Beyond his academic, athletic, creative and musical gifts, his greatest gift was his big heart for people. He had a genuine desire to make people feel loved and encouraged and was known for his bear hugs and thumbs up sign. Aaron's infectious smile and witty personality made him very approachable and he easily made friends everywhere he went. Aaron is loved and deeply missed by everyone who knew him.
Aaron and Jon
The drunk driver, who had a BAC of .29 and also tested positive for cocaine, was given the maximum sentence allowable in the state of Texas—two, 20 years terms to be served consecutively for a total of 40 years. According to the El Paso District Attorney’s office, this was the largest sentence given in the city for a DWI/DUI case.
MADD Victim Advocates were connected with the Carrillo family through the District Attorney’s Victim Assistance Program and provided support and court accompaniment throughout the criminal justice process.
The Carrillo family continues to participate in MADD events and working to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. They have attended Candlelight Vigils and created a Walk Like MADD® team in memory of Aaron and Jon. This March, the Carrillo family worked with the City of El Paso to create a video about Aaron to remind the public to drive safe and sober and hopefully, prevent another family from experiencing the pain of losing someone to this 100 percent preventable crime.