AUSTIN, Texas — Jacqui Saburido, who became one of the "Faces of Drunk Driving" in a statewide campaign from the Texas Department of Transportation has died, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission confirmed on Monday.
"TABC is saddened to learn of the passing of Jacqui Saburido, who used her life-changing injuries to help tell others about the dangers of drunk driving," wrote the TABC on Twitter.
According to our news partners at the Austin American-Statesman, Saburido was severely burned in a crash on RM 2222 in 1999. She died at age 40 after a battle with cancer.
Saburido was taking a break from college when she moved to the U.S. from Caracas, Venezuela, to study English. She had been in Texas for less than a month when the vehicle she was traveling in was struck by a drunk driver.
They were heading home from a birthday party in Austin in the early morning hours of Sept. 19, 1999. Her friend, Natalia Bennett, was driving when they were struck by 18-year-old Reggie Stephey of Austin.
Bennett and one passenger did not survive the head-on collision. Meanwhile, Stephey was convicted of two counts of intoxication manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in the state penitentiary. He was released in 2008.
Saburido suffered third-degree burns over 60 percent of her body after the car caught fire. The flames scorched her eyes and left her blind. She also lost her hair, ears, lips, nose, eyelids, and the use of her hands.
To her doctors' surprise, Saburido survived. With more than 100 operations since the crash and medical bills exceeding $5 million, her life changed forever. She later became the face of the TxDOT campaign with her caretaker father, Amadeo Saburido, by her side through it all.
She also became a motivational speaker, inspiring millions of students, Texans and others across the globe.
You can learn more about Jacqui's story here.
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