Voices of Victims - Why We're Here


Voices of Victims

Why We’re Here: Mary Irwin

On July 17, 1996, 13-year-old Mary Irwin spent the summer day playing with her best friends, Jesse and Jodi. When it was time for Mary to go home that evening, Jesse and Jodi’s older sister Tracey offered to drive her. So they all piled into their parents van.

On their way, they made a quick stop for snow cones. And after deciding what flavor to get, they hopped back in the van to head home. The next thing Mary remembers is sharp pain, sirens, and panic.

A drunk driver with a BAC almost three times the legal limithad sped across the center line and hit their car head on. Mary, Jesse, and Jodi were severely injured. And Tracey, who was driving the van, died before she made it to the hospital.

A stop for frozen treats on a warm summer night ended in hospital stays and a funeral, and changed many lives forever.

Mary was forced to grow up with the physical and mental scars of the crash – the scar on her face reminders her every day of that tragic night. She still experiences anxiety driving, especially at night.

Now, Mary volunteers with her local MADD office to help save lives. She volunteers at several victim impact panels each month, sharing her story to save lives. She also participants in vigils and monthly support groups to help provide the much needed support for other victims and survivors during their healing journey. She also supports MADD Missouri at their fundraising events, and is a team captain for “Team Tracy” at the St. Louis Walk Like MADD.

Mary works to help make sure no other children have to grow up living with the life-changing consequences of someone else’s choice to drink and drive. So that they can go get snow cones on a summer night without putting their lives in danger.


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.


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