Youth in court day drives home hard life lessons

An important and hopefully a life-learning lesson for young people Friday, happened at the Vista courthouse. Hundreds of high school students heard from a convicted drunk driver who killed a mother of two and one of the mother's children. KUSI's Ed Lenderman was their to hear the first hand account of the accident and reports on the heart-wrenching details.

The words were tearful and wrenching. As emotional as it was to hear, if you're going to reach young people who think they're invincible and that nothing's ever going to happen to them,
this would be the way to do it:

Just outside the Vista courthouse, an unimaginably wrecked-SUV. Inside the building, the drunk driver who caused the death of the SUV's driver, Pamela Marabeas and Marabeas' daughter and the victim of a hit and run crash the drunk driver caused just before the fatal crash.

The three– in the same room for the first time since the horror of September 20, 2009. Their audience, 450 North County high school juniors and seniors as part of a program called youth in court day.

Through the tearful words of the drunk driver, Jeanette, “my bad decisions effected more people than I could have ever have thought.”

and the tearful testimony of Marabeas's daughter, Erin, “I had a dream last night and my mother walked in and said sorry I've just been gone awhile and that's something that really weighs on you.”

The students learned first hand the pain and tragedy of driving drunk.

The crash received a lot of media attention, Jeanette, was just three weeks shy of her 18th birthday. High on alcohol and drugs, she ran a red light and slammed into Pamela Marabeas' vehicle at a Santee intersection at 82 miles per hour, literally severing Pamela in half.

Jeanette almost died and now suffers from permanent injury. “I hope you realize that no high or buzz is worth risking your life and taking the life of another for your own selfish pleasure,” said Jeanette.

Because she was 17-years-old, Jeanette was charged as a juvenile and spent 9 months in detention before being paroled.

Oceanside senior Kassey Gudez was among those who got the message, “definitely don't drink and drive, I don't do it now, but I definitely wouldn't.”

Lessons from a criminal act that altered forever, many lives.

One of the conditions of Jeanette's probation is that she speak to groups such as the high school students.

We should also note that Pamela Marabeas' daughter Erin and the other victim, Taya Case, have become life-long friends. Erin is still upset that Jeanette was charged as a juvenile and received so little time for causing her mother's death. Taya, is upset as well. A college student, she changed her major to criminal justice in order to work for change in the system.

Categories: KUSI