On March 18, 2009, 29-year-old Erin Dufour was heading home from a shopping trip. She had just moved into a new apartment with a friend, and ran out to grab some cleaning supplies to get the place ready. But she didn’t make it back to her new home. Instead, she was hit head-on by a drunk driver, who had been drinking heavily at a local bar. Erin did not survive the crash.
Erin had a bright future. At the time she was killed, she was deciding what to do with her life. When her parents went through her personal items from work, they found an application to nursing school, partially filled out. Nursing school was always a dream of hers that she was obviously planning to pursue. She was always independent, always wanting to do things on her own. She was proud of standing on her own two feet.
Erin loved scary movies and amusement rides. She also loved Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie. She had a tendency to fall asleep after the beginning credits of every movie, even though she was the one who insisted on watching it. And she had a knack for choosing just the right gift for her loved ones birthday.
After the crash, Erin’s family connected with MADD Massachusetts victim advocate Roberta Domnarski.
“Our MADD Victim Advocate was a godsend to us in the aftermath of Erin's death,” said Erin’s mother, Kathryn Dufour. “She helped guide us through the legal system and helped us access grief counseling services. She remains a friend.”
Now, Erin’s family participates in Walk Like MADD, using “Team ERIN” to celebrate Erin’s life and help prevent other families from experiencing a loss like theirs.
“Nothing can bring her back to us, but we can work to build awareness of the devastating effects of drunk driving and help to eliminate it!” Kathryn said.
On February 20, 1994, Shawn Brown spent the afternoon with her 10-week-old son JaKori and sister visiting family. They were just a few miles from their house when a drunk driver, driving 60 miles per hour on the wrong side of the street, struck their car head on. The impact was so hard that everything that was in the trunk flew out the back of the car. He was trying to beat an oncoming train to the next intersection, but they later learned that there was never a train coming, the train track arms were broken.
Ten-week-old JaKori died at the hospital from his injuries, Shawn’s sister was seriously injured, and Shawn suffered a fractured skull, broke both her upper and lower jaw, as well as a broken femur. Despite being pronounced dead twice, she survived.
Shawn worked with her local MADD advocate in California throughout the court process, where the offender was sentenced to four years in prison. But it wasn’t until she moved to Georgia that felt compelled to get involved with MADD. She called the Georgia office and they immediately invited her to share her story at a Victim Impact Panel.
Shawn continues to share her story at MADD events, and participates in the Atlanta Walk Like MADD each year with team JaKori’s Angels. She also owns a bakery and has dedicated a cheesecake called “My Little Pumpkin” to JaKori, from which a portion of the proceeds are donated to MADD.
Shawn says, “If my tragedy can help others in anyway I will use it as a blessing to others. If it can save a life I would be forever humbled and grateful.”