Advocate against drunken driving, who was severely burned in 1999 crash, dies of cancer

Advocate against drunken driving, who was severely burned in 1999 crash, dies of cancer
Jacqui Saburido's face became synonymous with anti-drunken driving campaigns after she was severely burned in a 1999 car crash. She died at age 40 of cancer. (Source: Texas Department of Transportation/CNN)

(CNN) - Jacqui Saburido, who was left with severe burns at age 20 after a crash with a drunken driver in Texas and whose face became synonymous with anti-drunken driving campaigns, has died.

Saburido, 40, died of cancer in Guatemala, according to CNN affiliate KXAN.

In 1999, the 20-year-old and four friends were headed home from a birthday party in Austin, TX, when their car was struck head-on by a drunken driver who drifted into their lane, according to the Texas Department of Transportation, which featured Saburido in its “Faces of Drunk Driving” campaign.

Saburido, who was in the front passenger seat, suffered third-degree burns over 60 percent of her body after the car caught fire. Two of her friends died in the crash.

Saburido required more than 100 surgeries to address burns to her face and hands. At the time of the crash, the 20-year-old, who grew up in Venezuela, had been in the United States for less than a month and had no health insurance, according to the transportation department. Her medical bills topped $5 million.

TxDOT sends our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jacqui Saburido. Our hearts were broken to hear the...

Posted by Texas Department of Transportation on Tuesday, April 23, 2019

After the crash, Saburido became an advocate against drunken driving. She made numerous school appearances, using her startling injuries to show the dangers of driving under the influence. She also appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show twice.

"Even if it means sitting here in front of a camera with no ears, no nose, no eyebrows, no hair, I'll do this a thousand times if it will help someone make a wise decision," said Saburido, during one of her many speaking engagements after the accident.

Reggie Stephey, then 18, was the driver of the vehicle who hit Saburido and her friends. He was convicted of two counts of intoxication manslaughter and served seven years in prison. He was released in 2008.

Copyright 2019 Texas Department of Transportation via CNN. All rights reserved.