Student Shares Impact of Impaired Driving
August 20, 2013
ALLIANCE, Ohio — Surrounded by the support of her Purple Raider friends and family members, Mount Union junior Melinda Mason told her “Only God” story during the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over kickoff event on Thursday at Washington High School in Massillon, OH.
“I didn’t realize that so many of you guys would be here and it’s really an honor to have you here after all the support you have given me these last four months,” Mason told the mostly purple-clad crowd.
Mason, a communication and religious studies major of Louisville, OH, and her friend Rain Motz, a junior public relations major of Minerva, OH, were victims of a serious alcohol-related accident on April 11, 2013 on state Route 62 and Broadway Avenue Northeast as they traveled back to Mount Union after attending an event at Malone University.
“I never in a million years thought that drunk driving would be something that I would talk about,” she said. “Drunk driving became a very serious reality for myself and one of my sorority sisters on the night of April 11.”
As Mason and Motz crossed through the route 62/Broadway intersection, the drunk driver failed to yield and crossed Mason’s path. Her car was totaled and she and Motz sustained serious injuries.
“I was laying in my car totally shocked that I was in such a serious accident,” Mason recalled. “With my only mobile limb, my left arm, I started to feel around. I felt pain all over. I touched my legs because both of my femurs had been broken. The top part of my left femur protruded out of my skin and was outside my leg and the top part of my right femur had protruded into my muscle. “
In addition, Mason dislocated her right arm and sustained a mild brain injury, which continues to cause short-term memory problems. She endured three-and-a-half hour-long surgeries on each leg and is left with major scars. Mason has endured months of physical and speech therapy.
But despite the months of pain and therapy, Mason is improving every day. She walks with the help of a cane but expects to walk without it in the coming weeks. She plans to begin running in October and is thrilled to be back on Mount Union’s campus.
“It’s so great to be back with friends,” she said. “I’m pretty sure I’m the happiest person to be back at Mount Union because I had such a boring summer.”
Mason told those in attendance that the accident has had a positive impact on her life.
“My story has really redefined who I am and has given me a deeper calling, a deeper love for God and more passion to live my life. Not only am I Mel Mason, but I am Mel Mason, a survivor, a teller of an Only God story and follower of the one who is always faithful,” she said.
She also used her speech as an opportunity to remind her peers about the importance of making good choices.
“When we choose to drink and drive, we’re choosing a death sentence for someone else, possibly. The night this man chose to drink and drive affected the whole University of Mount Union, my friends and my family. I hope you realize how powerful your choices are and remember me the next time you consider drinking and driving.”
Thursday’s event served as a community-wide kickoff to the National Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign to address the dangers and consequences of impaired driving. Other speakers included a member of the OVI Task Force and principal Brad Warner of Washington High School who discussed the district’s new Fan Code of Conduct program.
“According to MADD, about every 53 minutes, someone is killed in a drunk driving crash and every 90 seconds, someone is injured by a drunk driver,” said Kelleen Weber, director of alcohol, drug and wellness education at Mount Union. “The Office of Alcohol, Drug and Wellness Education at the University of Mount Union supports the ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ national campaign to target drunk drivers. Drinking and driving is not just a legal issue but a concern for all of society; therefore, the community, including the university, must work together to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving.”