ORANGE PARK, Fla. – In 2012, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-related crashes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That's one every 51 minutes.
In Florida alone, about 700 deaths were attributed to alcohol-related crashes in 2012, according to the NHTSA.
I spoke to a young woman who faced death – but survived.
"Life before was… normal. I worked a job that I loved, I had my own place," said Alyssa Moss.
That all changed on April 23rd, 2013 when she lost part of her leg in a crash involving a drunk driver.
"I have never been so terrified in my life, never."
Moss was the drunk driver.
"Drinking and driving, and driving were basically the same thing. I did them both every single day," said Moss.
Moss was a bartender in Orange Park. She admits she would drive home frequently after a night of drinking on the job, but never imagined what would happen next.
"I wrecked into a concrete ditch… I went head-on," said Moss.
Moss doesn't remember the details of the crash, but the impact caused the engine in her car to collapse and fall right on her leg.
"I was laying in the car, bleeding out, 2:30 in the morning… they had me in the computers as a fatality," said Moss.
But she says she was lucky. Not only did she crash in front of a fire station, but she was the only one involved in the crash.
"I am beyond lucky, I'm blessed, because drinking and driving and accidents, I am the best case scenario. Worst case scenario is that you kill somebody else, you take somebody else's life," said Moss.
Firefighters were able to cut her out of the car and she was flown to the hospital.
"I opened my eyes and my family were all standing around me crying their eyes out. I could see the hurt and the pain and I've never seen devastation on somebody's face until I looked at my mother," said Moss.
And then the doctor told her mother the bad news.
"He told her they would have to remove my leg… it was my birthday," said Moss.
After three and a half months in the hospital and several surgeries, Moss would begin her road to recovery. She still has another surgery before she can get a prosthetic leg. For now, she is wheelchair-bound and had to move back in with her parents.
"Going to the restroom… fairly simple, not for me. I have to transfer from one chair to the other," said Moss.
"It's very difficult, what do you tell her… I just tell her I love her and we'll be there for her no matter what and that she'll get through it... I hate to see her going through this," said Robin Marvel, Moss's mother.
Alyssa told me she doesn't want people to feel sorry for her, but hopes someone will take heed to her warnings.
"I hope that somebody out there will listen to my story, and sees that 'yes it can happen to you'. I also thought ‘that's not going to happen to me' and I promise you… it's not worth it," said Moss.
Just a week before the crash, Moss said she was pulled over twice for swerving, but was let go. She said the officer that pulled her over worked security at the bar she worked at so she knew him well.
"He told me 'you're not too far from home, just get there and stay there'... so I made it home that night," said Moss.
Moss admits she was obviously intoxicated, but wasn't arrested for DUI.
"Every single day I think if that officer would have just taken me to jail for that DUI, maybe I wouldn't be here right now. I'm not saying it's his fault, I'm the one who put myself in that situation," said Moss.
After Moss got out of the hospital she had to face a Clay County judge, and she was charged with DUI.
She also did a week of jail time for violating her probation. The judge ordered her to speak at several youth impact panels sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Although she has fulfilled those terms, she continues to work with MADD, sharing her story with young adults across our area.
She told me reaching just one person will make this story well worth it.