Jacqui Saburido, the popular face of Texas’ anti-drunk driving campaign, died suddenly on Saturday at the age of 40 in Guatemala City due to cancer.
She is renowned for a 1999 event in which she miraculously escaped a devastating drunk-driving automobile wreck that almost burned her alive to death, and was left with life-altering scars and burns all over her body, leaving her family and peers scarcely recognisable.
Saburido was claimed to have had about 60% of her body scorched in serious third-degree burns when the inebriated 18-year-old Reggie Stephey drifted off the road and struck Saburido’s automobile, bursting the vehicle and searing both her eyes and virtually melting off her ears, lips, nose, eyelids, and hands.
Prior to the event, she had taken a sabbatical from her engineering studies and was studying English at a small university in Austin.
Her treatments cost over $5 million in medical costs, and she had over 100 operations on her body alone, while her offender, Stephey, was convicted on two counts of intoxication manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in the state prison before being freed in 2008.
Saburido has now become a motivational speaker and the face of the anti-drunk driving campaign in America, even appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s show in a segment called Chasing Hope.
‘It’s one thing to preach about inner beauty; it’s quite another to live it,’ Winfrey adds.
Jacqui’s cousin, Jose Saburido, told the Austin American-Statesman that after migrating to Guatemala City from her home in Caracas, Venezuela, some years ago, she received numerous medical treatments for her sickness and face reconstruction surgery.
‘She set a good example,’ her cousin Jose said. Saburido’s body will soon be flown back to Venezuela.