DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Yet another wrong-way crash Friday morning tied up traffic on Central Expressway. The crash happened just before 2:00am near the Royal Lane Exit.
The accident haunts the memories of a Good Samaritan who helped there because it reminded him of a fatality accident he says he caused years ago when he was an alcohol-impaired driver.
Chris Clary was among several folks who risked their own safety early this morning to help both drivers until medics arrived. “And I saw there was somebody in the car,” Clary said, speaking of the female victim. “It was obvious no one was getting out of it; I mean, it was just crunched up.” Then the driver implored him, “She just said, ‘Please get me out of here, please get me out of here,’ and I pulled on the door but obviously there was no way the door was going to open.”
Nonetheless Clary stayed with 21-year-old Britini Dietz of Dallas until medics rushed her to the hospital. She’s now listed in fair condition. Police charged the wrong-way driver, 21-year-old Ahmed Figeroa, with intoxication assault. Court records show Figeroa is on probation for an earlier DWI.
The accident brings back a flood of painful memories for Clary. In 1998 he’d been drinking when he crashed a car, killing one of his friends and injuring two others. “It’s something I think about pretty much…many, many times per day,” Clary tells CBS 11 News. He was originally charged with intoxication manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
As it turned out, Clary was not legally drunk, and the charge was reduced to manslaughter. Still, he spent six months in the Dallas County Jail as part of his sentence, along with ten years’ probation; and a record for life.
Clary says he now intervenes whenever anyone wants to have even a couple of beers and hit the road. “I don’t want to use a cliché, but ‘buzzed driving is drunk driving.’” Over the years since he’s given talks to teens, urging them not to mix alcohol and horsepower. “Mainly it’s just how much one decision can change your life and the lives of other people forever.”
Clary says it seems to have made more of an impact when he was younger and speaking to a younger audience. He still keeps a scrapbook of thank-you notes from members of his young audiences. But in recent years he cut back on his appearances. He worries he became the star of the story, and the message was sometimes lost. “I would get people clapping for me and so forth, and I was, ‘No, I really don’t want that. I want you to look at me and hate what I am and don’t ever do this. (you) Don’t want to be like me.’” Clary is a successful businessman now and co-owns an internet technology staffing company. But he tells CBS 11 News he remembers his accident every time he gets in his car. “God, look how many drinking and driving crashes there are. It’s just all the time. I mean, don’t drink and drive.”