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Yulee man laments decision that took his cousin's life

Man shares story as part of anti-drunk driving campaign 'Project Roadblock'

Bradley Kauffman
Bradley Kauffman

YULEE, Fla. – Imagine making a mistake so devastating and permanent that there is no way to make things right. That's the reality for a Yulee man who's been haunted by the life-changing decision he made at 25.

Three years ago, Derek Kauffman was entertaining his cousin, Bradley, who was in town visiting. The pair went bar-hopping in Jacksonville and later Derek got behind the wheel to take them home.

Kauffman's vehicle veered from the road along North Main Street near Tisonia Road. It struck a light pole and then overturned several times.

"I remember nothing from the crash," Kauffman said. "I remember waking up in a hospital bed."

Kauffman spent two months hospitalized as he recovered from brain and spine injuries sustained in the wreck. It wasn't until he left the hospital that he learned his cousin did not survive.

"It's awful," he said. "It's the worst thing you could ever hear, that you're responsible for someone you love dying."

Kauffman is sharing his story now in the hopes of helping others avoid the same mistake he did: one that cost him his cousin, his ability to work and his memory of the fateful night.

His story is one of many News4Jax is examining this week as part of Project Roadblock, a nationwide campaign aimed at preventing drunken driving.

News4Jax's Crystal Moyer will have Kauffman's story Wednesday on The Morning Show. Visit our Project Roadblock page to learn more about the resources available that will get you home safe.