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On the Radio with "Think Before You Drink" Founder

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Attorney Jeff Weinstein will be speaking live with "Think Before You Drink Foundation"Executive Director and Founder, Craig W. Hughes on Blog Talk Radio this Sunday evening, September 12th, at 7:00 p.m. The mission of the "Think Before You Drink Foundation" is to save the lives of our young people through an educational program about the inherent dangers of alcohol abuse. Craig will share his traumatic story of what can happen when you choose to drink and drive.

Transcript

0:04 Jeff Weinstein

If you drink and drive, I don't like you, period. I don't care if you're a hard worker or your friends and family think you hung the moon. The fact that you think it's okay to endanger the lives of innocent people on our roadways is horrendous to me. I'm Jeff Weinstein of Weinstein Law. We're injury lawyers that for the last 23 years have helped accident victims for their injuries resulting from the senseless acts of drunk drivers. We are people who put the pieces back together after innocent lives are shattered by drunk drivers. For me, prosecuting drunk drivers is personal. If you've been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, I want to be your partner to help you and your family. I know what you're going through. I know you're right. I can help you. We can help you. And remember, if you drink and drive, it's only a matter of time until you pay. Tonight, we are talking with Craig Hughes. Craig has a story of his own drunk driving which I applaud Craig for sharing. Craig?

1:10 Craig Hughes

Yeah Jeff.

1:11 Jeff Weinstein

Okay, I'm glad you're there. Craig, I don't know if you hear the intro but I kill bugs right off the bat that I don't like drunk drivers.

1:12 Craig Hughes

Yes. I don't either because, in most accident, the drunk walks away and the victims or the families that are killed.

1:34 Jeff Weinstein

Yeah, you know, you're willing to share your story about drunk driving?

1:41 Craig Hughes

Yes.

1:42 Jeff Weinstein

I think that takes a lot of guts and you know, I took my hands to you. Why don't we just share a little bit, you know, who is Craig Hughes? And you know how is it that you got here to tell a story about drunk driving? So, Craig what city do you live in?

1:51 Craig Hughes

Hampstead, Maryland.

2:03 Jeff Weinstein

Okay. So, you live in Maryland and did you basically grow up there in Maryland?

2:08 Craig Hughes

Yes. My whole life.

2:11 Jeff Weinstein

Yeah and tell me for your personal situation, you know, about when did you start drinking?

2:18 Craig Hughes

Actually, I was a moron. I started drinking when I was about 16 to fit in and be one of the crowds thinking it would make me fit in and back then, the drinking age was only 18, you know, it's not 21 like it is now. And plus the liquor stores, the bars stop like that aren't as cautious selling it now back then as you are now. Because of the fines and shutdowns and everything else but I started drinking for the wrong reason and just went over board with it because of the money hours making gets the time.

2:56 Jeff Weinstein

So, alright. How old are you now?

2:59 Craig Hughes

Forty-eight.

3:01 Jeff Weinstein

Okay, so you and I are about the same age. I'm 49. So, you would have been, and let's see 15 is what? 1975 or 74 or stuff?

3:11 Craig Hughes

Yeah.

3:12 Jeff Weinstein

Okay, and would have been I take it in, you know what ninth or tenth grade?

3:17 Craig Hughes

Yeah. Something like that.

3:19 Jeff Weinstein

Right, okay. And did your folks, I mean, take it at that time you are living at home. So, did your folks -- do they drink?

3:27 Craig Hughes

No. I don't know, well they drink socially, very, very, very, very sparsely. You know, they didn't hardly ever drink but once in a great while they did and, you know, because I guess they wanted to do like I do when I started raising my kid, I don't what them to see me drinking all the time because when I got my kids raised by myself for 10 years, I quit drinking completely because I don't want them growing up seeing it was alright to drink alcohol.

3:57 Jeff Weinstein

Right. And so your story begins with hanging out, you know, might not necessarily be with the wrong crowd, but did you think it was peer pressure? Is that the reason why you started drinking?

4:14 Craig Hughes

I don't know. It could have been, but I just want to fit in because I wasn't that popular in school and then I had everything given to me where I picked the right things. I took two years of vo-tech machine shop in eleventh and twelfth grade. I think I did pretty well on them. I got a job when I was going to school half a day because I only had like one class to finish the second half in my senior year to get my credits to graduate, so I started working at a little tiny company there in Westminster and then I went back to school to see my second year vo-tech teacher and he is right off the bat, "Would you like to have a tool and die apprenticeship, company paying everything, you know, training and everything?" I said, "Alright right, yeah." He made a phone call. The company hires me on his word at $300 a week at 17 years old back in '79.

5:14 Jeff Weinstein

I don't think most people realized in 1979 if you could make 300 bucks a week, that was a good living.

5:21 Craig Hughes

A very good living, yes. I bought my first car, a brand new off the lot at 18 years old. It was a kind of Fire Arrow made by Mitsubishi before they went on their own, and it was a very nice car. I bought it though as a toy unfortunately because if you don't respect the vehicle no matter what it is, it will kill you, because I tried to do too many tricks with it and just playing around with it. I'd come down to stop sign when I was out drinking and stuff with friends of mine and it was 5 speed on the floor with emergency brake right there between the seats. I would come down to stop then about 30 miles an hour and nobody coming, I'd lost the back end of the car up and do three apples in the road for the heck of it. And I would scare the crap out of a lot of friends of mine but I thought it was funny at that time because I was drinking.

6:16 Jeff Weinstein

You are drinking and driving?

6:17 Craig Hughes

Yep. I got away with it one and a half years until a car...

6:23 Jeff Weinstein

How many times do you think that you drank and drove before you had this incident? This accident?

6:32 Craig Hughes

I would say almost every weekend since I turned 16 and got my license.

6:38 Jeff Weinstein

And the accident happens when you drove?

6:43 Craig Hughes

It was every weekend for two and a half years straight probably.

6:46 Jeff Weinstein

Alright. So, well over 120-ish times.

6:52 Craig Hughes

Yes.

6:53 Jeff Weinstein

Yeah. And I don't know if you've heard the statistic but MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, tells folks that a drunk driver normally would drive 86 or 87 times before they actually get stopped.

7:11 Craig Hughes

Well, I never got stopped for a drunk driving ticket. I never got pulled over. In fact, when I had my accident, the cops knew I was drunk but they never gave me a ticket because they found me 50 feet away from the car facedown on the ground and the only thing I can figure is the cop didn't want to start to walk and I was in a direct line towards my house. Because the only injury I had was a severe skull depression that made me go into a coma, and I had no internal injuries or anything like that. If you're thrown 50 feet, you're going to get messed up and have broken bones. And the cops told me because I wasn't behind the wheel, even though the car was mine, they couldn't prove that I was driving it.

7:50 Jeff Weinstein

Let's back up a little bit. You remember, I'm sure you remember to the day the date of your accident.

7:57 Craig Hughes

Yeah. Now, I didn't even go to my senior prom. I was out drinking and driving instead. I'll tell you how bad I had it or did it. You know, because most school kids, they'd want to go to their senior prom. Me, I started to go out drinking instead. I'd only got a girlfriend at that time and I've, you know, just I was like what you call a learner. The night of my accident, well, I put it this way, the apprenticeship that was given to me on the silver platter I threw it away because I started screwing up at work. So they fired me and then four days after starting a new job, the only thing I remember that day was leaving work, picking up two twelve packs of beer, and going to a friend's house, and the next thing I remember is waking up in Shock Trauma in Baltimore almost dead. And...

8:54 Jeff Weinstein

Let's back up. What date was that? Do you remember the date?

8:59 Craig Hughes

April 11, 1980, about 12:15 in the morning.

9:02 Jeff Weinstein

Alright, so April 11, 1980 is the date that you had your accident that literally changes your life.

9:10 Craig Hughes

Yes. It should have snapped my neck and killed me, but the Man upstairs wanted me here for a reason.

9:17 Jeff Weinstein

So what you remember is that day you remembered getting off work and you bought a couple of twelve packs of beer.

9:26 Craig Hughes

Yes.

9:28 Jeff Weinstein

I mean, would you just drive around and drink.

9:31 Craig Hughes

Yup. There's a lot of back country roads for me to drive around. We had field parties that we go to. Back then, you could almost sit in parking lots and drink because then the cops didn't patrol as much as they do now and we'd sit there and have like little parties with a friend just bull crapping, talk, and then just socializing. The next is like I said, I woke up not knowing what happened in Shock Trauma. Now later on, I found out the at friend's house that I was coming home from that night, he knew I was so drunk I shouldn't have been driving, but he said I hit him and knocked him on his butt when he tried to make me stay at his house. That was the worst choice I've ever made. Then because of that, I had my accident. I should have listened to him and stayed at his house.

10:29 Jeff Weinstein

) So, your friend tried to get you to stay at the house to sleepover but instead you basically had some sort of argument, you punched him out or pushed him down or whatever and then you leave. Is that what he tells you happened?

10:46 Craig Hughes

Yes.

10:48 Jeff Weinstein

Wow.

10:49 Craig Hughes

Actually, I have no idea. Thankfully, I had no memory of the accident to affect my driving now because when you hit a dirt bag doing over 100 mile an hour and roll the car end over end 347 feet winding in a ditch 10 feet deep upside down with no seatbelt, you're very lucky to walk away from it.

11:07 Jeff Weinstein

Wow. As you understand the facts of your accident, you were at a very high speed, lost control of your vehicle...

11:19 Craig Hughes

Yes. I was asleep or passed out. I don't know which.

11:23 Jeff Weinstein

...flipped over several times, and somehow the Good Lord get you out of this car. I mean, you're not wearing your seatbelt, right?

11:34 Craig Hughes

Right.

11:38 Jeff Weinstein

And you don't think you were ejected from the car. You think you literally walked away from it.

11:43 Craig Hughes

Yeah. I knew I walked away from it. If you're thrown at 50 feet, you're going get messed up internally and everything else and that's what they've brought up that I was thrown 50 feet from the car.

11:48 Jeff Weinstein

You don't think that happened?

11:58 Craig Hughes

Nope because I was in a direct line towards my house. In fact, when I come home from the hospital, I go out the front yard to see exactly where it was. It was on the very next tail over. Two minutes, I was then parked to my driveway.

12:08 Jeff Weinstein

It was close to your house.

12:10 Craig Hughes

Very close, yes.

12:13 Jeff Weinstein

Craig, tell us the name of your foundation.

12:18 Craig Hughes

It's called the Think Before You Drink Foundation, and the reason I've come up with that name is because when you drink, you don't think. The alcohol thinks for you. And the main reason I formed that foundation is when I first started raising my kids by myself, they could even tell you now I would sit here in front of them and cry about what I threw away and how I felt about myself because of what I did to my own life. It was not somebody else's idiotic mistake that caused me this problem. I did it to myself. I had a great future given to me and I just threw it away because in '85, my brother got the privileged to watch his father-in-law die right in front of him when his motorcycle exploded between his legs when they were hit by a car, drunk driver, head on at over 100-mile-an-hour impact. My brother had both legs broken, his one arm broke, and he lied down in the cornfield where he was thrown of his motorcycle when he was hit by the other drunk driver. And because of that, God saved me from my accident. I figured that's maybe why He saved me, and I try to turn my mistake around into a positive learning tool. I don't sit here and cry anymore, I don't feel sorry for myself, and I try my best to use my mistake as a positive learning tool for others.

13:55 Jeff Weinstein

What's the website address for your foundation.

14:00 Craig Hughes

http://www.qis.net/~hughessr

14:20 Jeff Weinstein

Okay. Now I'm going to tell people. You can literally Google Craig Hughes Sr. Think Before You Drink and you'll get to the, if you don't get that website address, Craig Hughes Sr. Think Before You Drink Foundation and Google that or Bing or Yahoo and you'll get right to it. I've looked, there're some photographs in your foundation website.

14:47 Craig Hughes

Yes. Those are the pictures of the car that I was in. That car was five months old. I drove it off a lot with three miles on it.

14:55 Jeff Weinstein

Okay. So Craig, I think I'm a car guy, but I'm telling you I'm looking at it and I'm just having a hard time figuring out what is it.

15:05 Craig Hughes

Did you know the time of Arrows back in the late '70s or early '80s by Mitsubishi?

15:11 Jeff Weinstein

Sure.

15:12 Craig Hughes

Alright. That's what it was. It was a Plymouth Fire Arrow. You know its Conquest TSi nowadays? This is the predecessor of that car. It's the top line of the Arrow, the sports car model.

15:25 Jeff Weinstein

Yeah. It looks a little bit like a 280Z.

15:29 Craig Hughes

Yes. It was a very nice car. I think I was outlined transcends with it when I was acting stupid because that's all it was, was stupidity.

15:41 Jeff Weinstein

Why do you say that?

15:44 Craig Hughes

Because that's a main reason why a lot of kids die nowadays. If it's not alcohol related, it's speed related because they do not respect the vehicle. And as truckers tell you and as they learn to think when they take their test and stuff, all a vehicle is, what, a two-ton killing machine once it's not controlled right or handed correctly and respected because it doesn't stop on a dime. It keeps going for so many feet afterwards, and this country does not give you the license to have the right to drink and drive and kill. You have a license drink or to not drink but to drive safely from place to place and keep yourself safe and others safe.

16:39 Jeff Weinstein

How many times have you been told don't drink and drive?

16:43 Craig Hughes

A lot. My aunt would show me every accident in the paper before my accident. "Oh, it will never happen to me. It will never happen to me. It will happen to the other guy." It caught up to me, like it does on just everybody else except me, instead of just getting caught over with a ticket. That probably would have straightened me out. I had the accident instead and had a harder lesson to learn. But the worst part of that date is I didn't learn from my accident. First chance I got to drink again, I was stupid, still on a wheelchair from the rehab center, still couldn't walk right, went to a ballgame, then I had three beers and got sick and drunk off the three beers. And when I got out of the rehab center, I started driving again and drinking again except it's the hard stuff nowadays when I was drinking then. But after that, like I said, when I got caught with my two children raised by myself from my first marriage, that's when I gave up drinking completely because I had more important things to do with my money besides drinking it. I have two kids depending on me for their life and their survival and that's what made my mind up to just give it up.

17:52 Jeff Weinstein

From your drunk driving accident, the one car wreck, what injury did you have.

18:02 Craig Hughes

They called it a severe skull depression. I had a map reading like right about the rearview mirror. It was the size of a 50¢ piece that is stuck down about a hair finch and that was the same diameter hole that I put in my skull because when I was rolling the car and they were in, I think I flipped up and hit that. And the blood clot resulting from that was like a stroke and wiped out my whole left side. I was in a wheelchair for six months, couldn't walk. I had to learn how to go to the bathroom again. I had to learn how to talk again, write again, everything else, because when I was in Shock Trauma, I was in a coma there for 38 days. The first two weeks, they kept me in a lot of machines because they didn't think I was going to live. My mom said the doctor gave them that his best prognosis if I would survive would be a 24-hour vegetable needing care or I'd stay in a coma, one or the other.

18:53 Jeff Weinstein

It's a miracle.

18:55 Craig Hughes

Yes, it is. Well, I got to tell people I got away with it for two and a half years but God had me had it when I did so I would survive because supposedly EMT found me within like five minutes of the accident, called it in, had the helicopter at that time just starting out to fly me to Shock Trauma because even on the flight to Shock Trauma in the helicopter, that short of time, my left side was paralyzed. Considering a drive, that would have took in hours or so more and the brain damage I would had then. They had the best neurosurgeon on east coast down there at the time showing a new technique. He used me as the guinea pig as my mom just took five hours to clean my head out of a shattered deathbed the bones were. I have a plastic plate in my head now covering the hole up. The hole was that big.

19:43 Jeff Weinstein

Yeah. There is also a picture on your website of your head to show people that.

19:50 Craig Hughes

Yes.

19:51 Jeff Weinstein

Your folks, what did it put your parents through it?

19:56 Craig Hughes

Well now that I'm a parent, I cry sometimes when I think about what I've put them through because when a cop comes to your door, wakes you up 2 to 3 o'clock in the morning and tells you your son has had a very bad car accident, they don't know if he's going to live or die, be at this hospital as soon as possible, or even surgery right now. He'll be most of the night, be down at the hospital, you know, in the morning. It's one heck of a shocking thing to wake up to. You could say I put my parents' life through hell for almost a year or two because I had to be taken cared of like a baby again for a while until I could take care of myself again and I took a lot out of their life because of my stupidity. Thankfully back then, I was still on my parents' insurance and everything else and my auto insurance covered a lot of the accident cost. The Shock Trauma go back then, the one I have was like $30,000 and that's on the website. Today, if I went to the same accident or if somebody else went through it, just a ride to the hospital is like $8,000 to $10,000 in a helicopter, but the total bill for Shock Trauma would be close to $500,000. And one thing a lot of people do not realize auto insurance nowadays I think if it's a drunk-driving accident, the insurance company can even refuse to pay it making the person responsive for all of that. And if you're a minor, guess what? You just ruined your parents' life because they have to get rid of everything to pay your bill. But most insurance companies cut the payments off to a certain amount, like $100,000 is the limit of their liability. So I was lucky back then my hospital bills didn't get over that amount. But nowadays, they would get over that very fast and you'd be spending the rest of your life paying the bill.

21:59 Jeff Weinstein

Craig, you and I have chatted a couple of times and I thought first off, I think, I got to commend you for telling your story and sharing your story and hopefully one or two folks would really hear the story and say wow. All the things that you might tell me could happen, do happen, and here's this guy, he's going to tell the story, and hopefully people will say, "Hey, maybe I shouldn't do this" but what don't you tell folks what you think you've lost?

22:37 Craig Hughes

Well I've lost years of my life you could say. I lost the ability to be a really good father to my kids 'cause I couldn't really play with them. I couldn't wrestle with them, throw a football, run, jump, and stuff like that with them. I mean, I've lost a lot from that. I had been in pain everyday since the accident and I will be for the rest of my life because of early arthritis problems. I've had herniated my back three times in the last six years. I have to get it operated on the third time. I've herniated my front. I said I just fell down, broke my hip, all due because of my left side being paralyzed from the accident 30 years ago. I never expected that. I gave up a great deal of my life's time that I wish I could get back but I'm trying to make the best of what I have.

23:40 Jeff Weinstein

If the wreck hadn't happened, if you hadn't been drinking and driving, if you hadn't lost that first job for whatever reason, your tool and die job, what would have happened to you? Where would you be now?

23:57 Craig Hughes

Well, I'd be a tool and die maker making over $40 an hour. When I was taking apprenticeship, I came very close to making the adult decision and smart decision and plan for my future because at that time, I was blowing over $150 a week in fast food, alcohol, and gas with my running around. I came very close to investing that into gold stock and Chrysler stock. If I had done that, I'd be a multimillionaire right now, but being young and stupid, I lived for the day instead of my future, and that's one of the biggest mistakes I think I've ever made in my life because I didn't think. I thought about it, but I didn't go through with it.

24:41 Jeff Weinstein

So, if you had it all back, if it had not happened, you'd be making 80,000 bucks a year.

24:51 Craig Hughes

Probably at least.

24:53 Jeff Weinstein

(cross talks) 40 bucks an hour, $80,000 a year?

24:58 Craig Hughes

That would make a lot. That would be very nice to have, because right now, it's poverty level. I'm on partial disability and I work part time because I can't survive on the disability, and like I said, I'm in pain everyday of my life that I had to deal with and as I tell people the day I wake up I'm not in pain, I'm going to be dead and in heaven with the Lord, though you could see the pain everyday keeps me going.

25:27 Jeff Weinstein

Can you describe the pain for us?

25:32 Craig Hughes

Well, you can consider it like this. If you ever felt a knife point pushing into you, sometimes my left knee because it hyperextends backwards and the arthritis in it, when I take a step, your knee has that feeling going through it, and sometimes it even collapses on itself. It's nothing to be happy about and nothing I would want anyone to have to go through.

26:05 Jeff Weinstein

Do you have to take pain medication?

26:07 Craig Hughes

Yes, I do.

26:09 Jeff Weinstein

Then if you don't have the medication, what happens?

26:14 Craig Hughes

Well, if I don't take the medication, I can't work because I can't stand a lot of time, I can't move around hurriedly, and it really, really messes my life up a lot where I can't do anything hurriedly.

26:31 Jeff Weinstein

So Craig, if you have an opportunity right now, we've got a couple of minutes to go here before the show is over, what do you really want anyone that hears this show to take away from Craig Hughes' story.

26:51 Craig Hughes

Just you're in school. You're starting the rest of your life. If you have the chance, take Vo-tech. It's school pay training, that would get you a great career. If you do take it, don't screw up like I did. Take it serious. Don't take it for granted. And you have to understand, a lot of people don't realize alcohol is a drug. It's the worst drug in the country because it's legal. Alcohol kills one driver every 30 seconds in this country. I think it's averaged out to be by the Highway Safety and Traffic Administration. Four college students die a day because of alcohol. Over 70 or 80,000 college rapes a year are because of alcohol-related date rapes. Alcohol is the number one drug related to a violent crime. Not coke, heroin, stuff like that. It's alcohol. Because alcohol is an amplifier that whatever mood you're in, it's going to amplify that. If you think you're big and bad, you're going to pick fights and get put in a hospital or shot or killed or whatever. You're going to try stupid stuff thinking you can do it and you can't. And also, alcohol is the number one drug you have a chance of dying from when you try to get off of it, if you're an alcoholic because it is proved by doctors that after a while, alcohol has the same addictive chemical effect as the heroin does. A lot of people don't realize that. And I have tried to research those now, I found it and it's on my website, but the alcohol will have taken that completely out where you can't find that information.

28:44 Jeff Weinstein

Alright. So, speaking with Craig Hughes, Craig has got a foundation. Craig, tell us again the name of your foundation.

28:52 Craig Hughes

The Think Before You Drink Foundation. The life you save could be your own. That's our logo.

28:59 Jeff Weinstein

So if you want to check that out on the internet, please I suggest you do. Craig has done a nice job of putting together a website. You can search Craig Hughes, H-U-G-H-E-S, and the Think Before You Drink Foundation, you'd go straight to his website. Craig, I really want to thank you for coming out Sunday night, taking time out of your life to talk us. But, I really got to tell you, it might, again, so many thanks for sharing your story because I got to tell you, it's a tragic story and you've done a really nice job of turning it around and let people know how it affected you.

29:45 Craig Hughes

Well, thank you. When I formed this and put it up on the internet, when I put the website up, I was put on the front page of Carroll County Times, which is our local newspaper, because my story is the first one from my point of view that I have ever found on the internet and that's what I tried to do, and like I said it's helped my life a great deal because it's has turned my sorrow into a positive learning tool.

30:12 Jeff Weinstein

Alright, Craig. That's our time for tonight. I'm going to buzz you right back.

30:16 Craig Hughes

Alright.

30:17 Jeff Weinstein

Thanks.

30:18 Craig Hughes

Thank you.

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