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Voices of Victims

Why We’re Here: Aaron Carrillo
By MADD | July 1, 2014 | Filed in: Victim Stories

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.


Why We’re Here: Matt Dawson
By MADD | June 2, 2014 | Filed in: Victim Stories

On May 31, 1999, 18-year-old Matt Dawson was at a field party with his girlfriend. Since he had a 1:00 a.m. curfew and his girlfriend didn’t have to be home until 2:00, he decided to catch a ride home with a group of friends headed to a store near his house.

They were traveling at an estimated 89 miles per hour when they crashed just a few blocks away from Matt’s house. Both Matt and the driver were not wearing seatbelts and were ejected from the car. The other three people in the car, including the driver, were injured, but survived.  Matt was killed.

“As parents, as a family, we will never be the same as we were on that date,” Matt’s mother Laura Dawson said.

Matt was a friend to everyone and only saw the good in people. He considered everyone a friend and was always willing to help anyone in need.  Matt was a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, and occasionally taught classes. He loved music and was a great artist. 

However, Matt’s death wasn’t the first brush with drunk driving tragedy for the Dawson’s. Matt was actually the second of three cousins in his family killed in drunk driving crashes:

  • Tim Dawson – killed in 1976 in Mississippi
  • Matt Dawson – killed in 1999 in Virginia
  • Stephanie Ward Stahl – killed in 2012 in West Virginia

Laura says that her family’s experience with so much devastation because of drunk driving has made the family closer, “but shows that no family is immune.”

In Matt’s case, the driver, whose BAC was .212, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to six months in jail.

After the trial, Laura began volunteering for MADD and later became a certified victim advocate so she could provide assistance and support for other families impacted by drunk driving.  She also served as leader of her local MADD chapter in Virginia. She continues to shares Matt’s story at MADD victim impact panels, and school and community events.


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