Her fear of being judged by a room full of police officers at a San Diego County Mothers Against Drink Driving awards luncheon was short lived.
It was trumped by courage and the wall-to-wall love and support for the young woman in her 20s as she walked up to the lectern. Her handless left arm was dangling along her side.
She had been the victim of a drunken driver. She is now determined to get her message out: drinking and driving doesn’t just kill — it also maims its victims, as it did her.
Jessica Creed has been waging an uphill battle to survive since the May 2013 DUI crash. Most of the near 300 officers in the auditorium had followed her recovery in and out of the hospital. Many were responsible for hundreds of DUI arrests throughout the current year. For much of 2013, Jessica was in shock and disbelief over her lot in life that derailed her career plans.
I had flown down to the Southland to see our youngest son being honored with a litany of credits for his continuing support for MADD. Tim had a page in the luncheon program that cited his accomplishments.
It was a proud day for this dad to see a son recognized for his continuing efforts to serve and protect in a job with many challenges and often too little sleep. He has truly gone above and beyond in supporting MADD on his own time over the 14 years he has served as an officer. Tim stands behind their drive to reduce the slaughter on the roadways due to drinking and driving.
I will never forget how very distraught he was early in his career when he was dispatched to a crash where an elderly woman was trapped in her vehicle and mortally injured. Using his baton he tried to bend the door frame open, but to no avail, in attempting to rescue her. Creed drew a lengthy standing ovation from her audience after telling of the long physical and psychological, and emotional journey toward recovery. That included learning how to talk and walk all over again having spent more than three months in the hospital.
She had a broken jaw, broken hand, broken sternum, broken pelvis in two places, lacerated liver, broken vertebra and a smashed face that allowed her only to make use of sign language to communicate with her family and medical personnel.
The 30-year-old suspect in the DUI crash was arrested and released from custody. Since then he has failed to answer to charges twice along and has been charged for being drunk in public. He is currently considered a fugitive from justice.
Creed has developed a site on Facebook attempting to create more of an awareness of the traumatic results of drinking and driving and how it derailed the future of an energetic young woman who had intended to become a nurse. Although a little difficult to contain her composure at times, she is continuing to speak to other groups about her traumatic near death experience hoping some will listen and avoid the hell she has gone through. Her Facebook site is Jmcreed21@yahoo.com – “a cause for awareness.”
“I couldn’t walk, talk, bathe myself, use the bathroom without assistance or use either of my hands going through some 15 surgeries because of this man’s (DUI) crime. It’s not easy to be a victim but it is even harder to be a survivor having to be strong, move forward and not let the pain, hurt and sorrow control your life,” she said. “The many hours I have spent reecting (on my future) one thing is clear: whatever I do, I will be successful.”
She thanked the officers who had been intently listening to her story. It was so quiet you could hear the proverbial pin drop.
“Being a police ofcer is a pretty thankless job from my understanding,” Creed said. “But, for me I could not give enough thanks for all that you do. Each drunk driver that you arrest on our roads helps prevent another person from having to experience what I have experienced. It’s men and women like yourselves that offer survivors like me closure and offer the would-be survivors renewed happiness in their own lives.”
She closed with: “From the bottom of my heart, thank you!”
A foundation has been created to assist Jessica and her family with medical bills. Go to Facebook under Jessica Creed Foundation for more information.