How Everything Changed in a Split Second By: Jeff Kudlacik
As far back as I could remember, I wanted to be a doctor. I had always been fascinated with helping people and doing whatever I could to make someone’s life better than it was before. I wasn’t exactly sure which kind of doctor I wanted to be, but I did know that I wanted to own my own practice. So, I went to the University of Kansas and receive a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Pre-med. I graduated in the Spring of 2014 and decided to take a year to work a few jobs to try and get as much money as I could before going into med school. One of the jobs that I had was working as a waiter at a restaurant. My 23rd Birthday was coming up on March 10th, 2015, and I had asked for that day off because I wanted to spend the day with family. It was early afternoon and my manager had called me asking if I could come in because they were short staffed and had tried other waiters but to no avail. I thought, why not? I could use the extra money and could have my parents come in to eat dinner and still spend some time with them on my birthday. After the shift was over, I was driving home just like I always had, when in the matter of a split second my life changed forever.
I was within a ½ mile from my home when a drunk driver going anywhere from 80-100 MPH plowed into the passenger side of my car.
The next thing that I knew is that I woke up on March 29th to my mother absolutely bawling and trying to explain what had happened to me just 19 days earlier. She kept saying that I would be okay and that I
would walk again. I was thinking to myself what does she mean by all of that? I just turned 23, and I knew that my grandma was going through some health issues, so maybe my mother was talking about her instead of me. I looked side to side and tried to move but was not able to go anywhere. That is when I looked down at my legs and saw what she was talking about. I pulled back the blanket and looked saw all this hardware and medical devices on my legs and that is when it hit me. I learned that I had suffered broken femurs in both legs, lost part of my right quad, tore my ACL and LCL in my right leg, peripheral neuropathy in both legs from the knee down to compartment syndrome, Severe foot drop, 10 broken ribs, punctured a lung, and sustained some damage to my vocal cords.
I spent 70 days in the hospital and had to have Occupational, Physical, and Speech Therapy. I had to learn how to walk, talk, eat, and drink again. Things you think that you wouldn’t have to do for a guy that just turned 23 years old. I spent an additional 3.5 weeks in an inpatient rehab facility before finally being able to go home. I will never forget all the emotions I felt when I first was wheeled into the house. After coming home, I received some additional in-home PT and OT work and went from wheelchair to walker to cane before finally being able to walk pretty much on my own by the summer of 2017.
It was not the easiest road to recovery by any means but there was definitely a silver lining in all of this and that was that my speech therapist ended up becoming my wife. How it happened is that it was a year after I left the hospital, the medical director invited me back for the “Great Save Event”. The event honors an individual that went through a traumatic event and was then saved by the medical staff. After the event, the director asked me to come back in two days and speak to the board on behalf of the treatment that the staff provided to me during my stay at the hospital a couple days later. Before I spoke to the board, I went to the cafeteria to grab some food and catch up with some nurses and PTs and OTs when I saw her. My former speech therapist and future wife walked into the room and sat down at the table, and we started to catch up. I told her that I had a fundraiser coming up and if I could get her number that I could send her some details and an invitation to it and the rest is history.
We started dating in June of 2016 and ended up getting married in November of 2019. We got our first dog together in February of 2021 and then came our first child, our daughter Myla, one day before our two-year anniversary. Albeit everything that has occurred to me physically since the accident such as: 4 blood clots in my right leg, 5 angioplasties (3 in Right leg & 2 in left leg), Removal of IVC filter, a couple surgeries to help with metal rod in right femur, two reconstructive surgeries on the right knee, Arthritis in my lower extremities (mainly my right knee), 3+ years of outpatient physical rehab, monthly pain management doctor visits, the people that I have met throughout this journey have resulted in life-long friendships and an amazing wife and perfect daughter.
Along with having the best family ever, I have been able to work with the MADD organization in hopes of making this world a better place. I have been involved with MADD’s Roll Call Series videos as well as sharing my story throughout my community.
I have spoken at high schools about the dangers and impact of drinking and driving and have shared my story at Victim Impact Panels (VIP) to the offenders in hopes that they would try to think twice before making the same decision to drink and then get behind the wheel. I have also spoken at police stations and academies to re-instill the importance of DUI Checklanes and how valuable they are. I have also shared my story to the University of Kansas Football team and the Kansas City Chief’s Rookie Camp.
Lastly, although the bill was struck down by the Kansas Supreme Court, I worked with some lawyers to help write a bill to hold bars more accountable for gross negligence when it comes to overserving and allowing customers to walk out and potentially get behind the wheel of their car when they are extremely intoxicated.
Drinking and driving is 100% preventable, and I just want to help in any way that I can to get my story out there so that what happened to me will not end up happening to someone else, because I am a very lucky individual. I know that not everyone gets to walk away like I did, and if I am able to just save at least one life in the process, then I can live knowing that my story is doing some good.
Editor’s note. Jeff’s story is highlighted and can be found in MADD’s Law Enforcement Impaired Driving Roll Call Video. The Roll Call Video and series can be found at this link: https://vimeo.com/channels/1695972
Kansas Highway Patrol Leads the way in Impaired Driving Prevention
Guest Authors: Technical Troopers Carson Nuss and Mark Crump
Technical Trooper Carson Nuss
Technical Trooper Mark Crump
The Kansas Highway Patrol was officially organized in 1937 with the goal to reduce crashes through enforcement of traffic laws. The fleet of 4 motorcycles and 31 patrol cars were used by the first 45 Troopers. From the inception of those early days to today, the goals for the Kansas Highway Patrol have not changed. The Kansas Highway Patrol has grown to over 400 Troopers with a fleet program that ranks amongst the best in the nation. Through the years of growth, the Patrol has stayed true to its roots and continues to find ways to reduce crashes and save lives on our roadways. Understanding what was causing most fatal crashes, the Patrol took aggressive and monumental steps to stop the illegal and dangerous act of driving under the influence by realizing that a specialized unit would be needed to not only combat the DUI problem, but also train all law enforcement across the State how to recognize the impaired driver. With the advancement of testing drivers with breath devices, this specialized unit gained its name – The Breath Alcohol Unit. As training continued and advancements in Drug Recognition Experts (DRE’s) became a larger role, the unit became the Drug and Alcohol Evaluation Unit.
Today the Drug and Alcohol Evaluation Unit consists of two Lieutenants, five Technical Troopers and three civilian personnel. All of the Troopers in this elite unit are not only DRE’s, but DRE Instructors who also have mobile Intoxilyzer 9000’s in their patrol vehicles to work DUI Saturation Patrols and Checklanes. Lieutenant Matt Payne is the DRE and SFST State coordinator, while Lieutenant Rob Istas oversees day-to-day operations. At least one of the Technical Troopers from this unit is at every SFST class that is taught across the State, as well as leading the SFST two-year refresher rotation that is encouraged for all law enforcement officers. Additionally, this Unit is also responsible for teaching all ARIDE and DRE schools Statewide.
Technical Trooper Mark Crump and Technical Trooper Carson Nuss are two Troopers in this Unit that have additional duties as the Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Customer Compliance Division. These two Troopers investigate compliance complaints from vendors, civilians and court staff regarding the 30,000+ IID drivers across the State. Troopers Crump and Nuss have the necessary expertise when it comes to enforcing driver license restriction laws and helping law enforcement during crash investigations where an IID was present. The task of IID education also falls on these two Troopers as well – Education for not only law enforcement, but also offenders. From teaching law enforcement how to ensure an IID is working properly on roadside traffic stops to what current Kansas statute to issue if a violation is found.
These two Troopers also educate offenders at every Victim Impact Panel (VIP) that is facilitated by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They provide an educational outreach presentation at the end of every VIP which addresses when and where a required IID should be used. It also gives them the opportunity to ask questions about their unique situation and current IID status.
In 2021 alone, these IID presentations have reached nearly 500 offenders. The goal for Troopers Crump and Nuss is to reduce drunk driving through education & enforcement and encourage compliance. The more law enforcement officers who are adequately trained on what to look for when they see an IID restriction on a driver’s license, the more drunk drivers will be removed from the road. Also, properly educating the offender when it comes to their IID will break the cycle of drinking and driving. For those offenders who struggle with breaking this cycle and choose to drive without their required IID, their violations will be enforced under the current laws. In 2021, 183 non-compliant IID offenders were investigated and/or contacted by Troopers Crump and Nuss.
Technical Trooper Mark Crump has a total of 32 years of law enforcement experience. 27 of those years have been with Kansas Highway Patrol and the last four years with KHP’s Drug and Alcohol Evaluation Unit.
Technical Trooper Carson Nuss has been in law enforcement for 24 years. 21 of those years have been with the Kansas Highway Patrol and the last 12 years with KHP’s Drug and Alcohol Evaluation Unit. Trooper Nuss is also a past member of the MADD Kansas State Advisory Board and was a presenter at the 2017 MADD Impaired Driving Prevention Training Summit in Washington, D.C.
MADD National selects Trooper First Class Lyle German as our Officer of the Month for February 2022. Trooper German is with the Maryland State Police assigned to the Barrack N – Rockville.
Trooper First Class Lyle German remains committed to removing impaired drivers from Maryland’s roadways. In 2021, Trooper German removed over 45 impaired individuals from Maryland’s roads, accounting for approximately 17% of the total DUI arrests at the Rockville Barrack.
In December 2021, Trooper German accomplished a significant milestone in his 5-year career by making his 200th DUI arrest. His proficiency in identifying impaired drivers has led him to make an arrest on 1 out of every 20 traffic stops he makes. Trooper German was also earned a position on the Montgomery County Holiday Task Force and joined allied agencies in Montgomery County to focus on impaired driving violations to safeguard life and property. Trooper German greatly contributed to the 260 total DUI arrests made by the task force during the holidays. His accomplishments are all the more impressive as Trooper German is a member of the Maryland State Police, Underwater Recovery Team, and he has dedicated roughly 60 days to URT activities in 2021.
Trooper German also enhanced his skills by attending Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) training. This training helps troopers observe, identify, and articulate the signs of impairment related to drugs, alcohol or a combination of both, to reduce the number of impaired drivers and impaired driving related traffic collisions. Recently, Trooper German safely pursued an intoxicated driver in a stolen vehicle and took him into custody after getting the vehicle stopped and a foot pursuit.
We are proud to select Trooper Lyle German of the Maryland State Police as the MADD February 2022 Officer of the Month. We thank him for his dedication to duty in making Maryland’s roadways safe. We wish him the best in safety and wellness in the remaining years of his career and service to the citizens of the State of Maryland.
Thank you to Commander Vincent Upole, Commanding Officer Barrack N – Rockville, for his nomination of Trooper German for this MADD recognition.
Border Patrol Agent Daniel Salazar was killed in a single-vehicle crash on the Bell Valley Truck Trail near Campos, California. He was responding to investigate a sensor that had been activated... Read more »
Deputy Sheriff Walter Jenkins was struck and killed at about 9:30 pm while directing traffic at the intersection of Highway 138 and Highway 212. He was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital... Read more »
Patrol Officer Brian Sember died from complications as the result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty. Officer Sember was a United States Marine Corps veteran and had served with... Read more »
Sergeant Nick Tullier succumbed to injuries sustained six years earlier when he was ambushed by a subject outside a convenience store at 9611 Airline Highway shortly before 9:00 am. Officers had... Read more »
Police Officer Darryl Fortner died from complications as the result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty. Officer Fortner had served with the Vestavia Hills Police Department for over seven... Read more »
NHTSA Early Estimates show an 18.4% increase in Traffic fatalities for the first half of 2021. With an estimated 20,160 people killed, this is the largest increase in the first half of a year since 2006. See the link to the report.
MADD’s 2021 Court Monitoring Report was recently released and can be found at this link. Of interest, nationally, the conviction rate is only 63% in the 17 states where MADD currently has court monitors. The report also lists state by state reports and all can be found here. .https://www.madd.org/the-solution/drunk-driving/court-monitoring/
MADD/Ipsos Poll: Consumers Support Drunk Driving Prevention Systems in Cars
Drug Impaired Driving Enforcement Training Opportunities Available
Impaired driving is one of the most serious problems on the roads today. As more states legalize recreational and medical marijuana, more law enforcement personnel must be trained in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) and as Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). Training has proven to be an effective tool in the fight against impaired driving. Increasing the availability of ARIDE and DRE training to officers, prosecutors, and the judiciary is an important next step. Contracts will be awarded to eligible U.S. law enforcement agencies and organizations to deliver regional training. Read more.
NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts: Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2019
2021 National Lifesavers Conference Registration is Open – Registration is now open for the 2021 National Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety Priorities, which will be held virtually. Register here >
DRE State Coordinator Best Practices Guide to Managing an Effective DEC Program – contains guidelines and recommendations for state DRE coordinators to enhance their DEC Program.
On November 12, NHTSA published a Request for Information (RFI) on available or late-stage technology under development for impaired driving detection and mitigation. The RFI’s goal is to better understand the state of emerging technologies, particularly those targeting alcohol-impaired driving. The notice requests information about the capabilities, limitations, and maturity of impaired driving technologies that are being researched, developed, or marketed.