As she stood at the Route 58 traffic circle Saturday holding signs warning motorists of the dangers of drinking and driving, Margarita Jimenez would share her story with anyone willing to listen. Several people stopped to share their own story of how a drunken driving incident affected their life or someone they know.
“You’d be surprised how many people driving by here have their own personal story that they can relate to,” she said.
Ms. Jimenez, 29, gathered with family and friends Saturday for the third annual Stop DWI event as a way to share her story, remind people to never drink and drive and raise money for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The group sold hot dogs and handed out T-shirts.
She had planned to host the event Wednesday on the anniversary of the early morning crash when she was ejected from the passenger seat of a car after the driver struck a pole at the intersection of Doctor’s Path and Northville Turnpike in Riverhead. The threat of rain forced her to push this year’s event back a few days.
Ms. Jimenez said the response Saturday was supportive.
“Hopefully we make a difference,” she said.
Ms. Jimenez said during the past year she’s been able to focus on her recovery and not worry about more surgeries. Her last surgery was in late March 2017 to help realign her spine. She still undergoes physical therapy and expects to continue that for the foreseeable future. She said Dr. David Wallach, an orthopedic surgeon at Stony Brook University Hospital, was instrumental in her long recovery in addition to the rest of the orthopedic team at Stony Brook and the members of the trauma unit.
She hopes to bring more MADD events, like a walk, to the East End in another year or two, she said.
Photo caption: Margarita Jimenez, left, was joined by friends and family, including her three children, for Saturday’s Stop DWI event at the Route 58 traffic circle. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)