Jill C. Mason
On April 11, 2004, I was a 26-year-old triathlete, with a master’s degrees, and a career in marketing with an engineering firm in Mountain View, CA. While on a bike ride on Easter Sunday morning, my boyfriend Alan Liu and I were struck from behind by a 69-year-old drunk driver, who was going 55 MPH and had a BAC of .39. Alan was killed, and I was hit about 200 yards later—the helmet saving my life.
At nearby Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, I was put on life support for about a week and underwent a 12-hour back surgery to realign my spinal column. I was transferred to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center on May 11, 2004, where I was also battling a traumatic brain injury that included a few brain surgeries. I emerged from my coma in late June and started to improve, with the help of supportive family and friends and unprecedented medical care.
On the morning we were hit, an off-duty police officer in Santa Rosa stopped the driver just after the crash and took his keys, seeing that he was impaired, and called on-duty officers and an ambulance to come immediately to the scene. The DA in Santa Rosa, Bill Brockley, was instrumental in keeping me informed about the prosecution’s case, supporting me before I was released from the hospital, and during and after the court hearing, where the offender was sentenced to 8 years and a few months at San Quentin Prison.
A few years later, when I was delivering presentations to high schools and other groups about drunk driving, the CHP Academy invited the lead investigators on my particular case to co-present with me to the CHP cadets about my case and their thorough investigation of the scene. In additionAlso, I have had the privilege of presenting for Sonoma County at a law enforcement event they held and was given the opportunity to meet a few more of the people who arrived on-scene after our 2004 crash. I’ve had the opportunity to present with law enforcement through Every 15 Minutes and the Alive at 25 programs held at various high schools and new driver education classes across California.
Fast forward nineteen years, and I live independently in Sacramento. I volunteer for A Touch of Understanding and MADD California. I own a house, am able to drive, have a rescue dog, and a wonderful boyfriend. And of course, my family and friends have all remained by my side since that terrible day in 2004. I am forever in debt to the many law enforcement professionals who have assisted me throughout my journey. My experience is a perfect example of living the life of service once you are sworn in.
My book is on Amazon: Couldn’t Happen to Me