As Kashira Brooks lay immobilized in ICU, she could not be certain her son was alive. She hadn’t seen 4-year-old Kingston since that moment before the crash. He’d told her he was going to look out for deer. Then came the bright lights aimed straight for them, the feel of the hot concrete, the sound of the paramedics airlifting her to the hospital. Brooks would learn later the extent of her injuries: fractured ribs, a lacerated liver, internal bleeding. But none of it compared to the separation from her son, the result of a 19-year-old who’d used alcohol and marijuana before getting behind the wheel. “I was broken, mentally, physically and emotionally,” Brooks recalled as Kingston stood beside her at the April 21, 2017 PowerTalk 21 event in Washington, D.C. The event, held at the National Press Club, was sponsored by Nationwide and the National Alcohol and Beverage Control Association. Almost three years had passed since the July 27, 2014 crash in Kennedyville, Maryland, on a drive back from visiting family in Pennsylvania. Life never fully returned to normal. Unable to care for herself or climb the stairs to their second-floor apartment, Brooks had moved in with family. She constantly worried about Kingston, whose traumatic brain injury sidelined him from all the activities he’d loved. “While the rest of his friends are enjoying recess and PE, he’ll assist the teacher or draw,” Brooks said. “I have to explain to him all of this happened because of someone else’s choices to illegally drink and use drugs, the choice to get behind the wheel.” Yet mother and son have found joy again with support from MADD’s Maryland victim advocate. She found strength in sharing their story in the hope that it will prevent other families from similar tragedies. “We must teach our sons and daughters to make safe, healthy and legal choices when it comes to alcohol and drugs,” Brooks said, and return to the days of looking out for deer and not drunk drivers.
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