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On The Radio with a Survivor of Drunk Driving

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This Sunday, attorney Jeff Weinstein will be speaking with Kimberly Berrier, a survivor of a horrific drunk driving accident. When Kimberly was 18 months old, she, her Mother and a family friend were hit head on by a drunk driver - The driver had just left a bar. Seconds before the impact, Kimberly's mom, Andrea flung her entire body around her child, saving Kimberly's life. Andrea took the full force of the impact and broke almost every bone in her body. She had multiple injuries, surgeries and lost large amounts of blood. She survived for three weeks but ultimately lost her life as a result of the injuries she sustained. She was 26 years old. "I don't think people realize how their actions can affect generations of people, not just the people involved in the incident itself." Kimberly will discuss the tragedy that was caused by a drunk driver and the impact it had on her life and others.


0:00 Narrator


0:05 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 OK to endanger the lives of innocent people on our roadways is horrendous to me.

0:19 Jeff Weinstein

I'm Jeff Weinstein, of Weinstein Law. We're injury lawyers, who, for the last 23 years, have helped accident victims with their injuries resulting from the simple act of drunk drivers. We are people who put the pieces back together after innocent lives are shattered by drunk drivers.

0:36 Jeff Weinstein

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 and help you and your family. I know what you're going through. I know rights. I know we can help you. And we can help you. Remember, if you drink and drive, it's only a matter of time until you pay.

0:57 Jeff Weinstein

Today I'm very excited that Kimberly Berrier is with us. And Kimberly, you have got such an interesting story. And I'm glad you're with us today. The first thing I'd like to say is, let's talk about your unique business that you have. Because I want to share with everyone that I found out about you by reading-- someone handed me the newspaper, and said look at this neat story of Kimberly. And so you've started a new business. What do you call it?

1:29 Kimberly Berrier

Hi. My business is Errands by Kimberly.

1:33 Jeff Weinstein

Errands by Kimberly. And tell me what you do?

1:37 Kimberly Berrier

I am a personal shopper. I do grocery and gift shopping, pet sitting, house sitting, and pretty much anything else that people don't have time for. Anything that stresses them out, that would assist in relieving any stress that daily life causes. So I'm just kind of a helping hand for anybody's personal errands needs.

2:00 Jeff Weinstein

All right. So there are people sitting around the house-- like today, Sunday-- and they said, gosh, I really wish I had somebody that could go run to the store for me, and take care of doing X, Y, Z. You want to do those things?

2:16 Kimberly Berrier

Absolutely. It's just something I've always loved running home personal errands. So it's a business that I had in mind for several years, but the concept wasn't really ready for this area, and that seems to be now, with the growth of east Texas, and all the busy lives that friends I have, family I have, I just know there's a need. Even if it's just occasionally or on a regular basis, I'm ready to help. And, you're exactly right. If they call me and need grocery shopping done, that's one of my primary services I offer.

2:54 Jeff Weinstein

Well I think it sounds very exciting. How would somebody get in touch with you?

3:00 Kimberly Berrier

You can call me on my work number. It's 903-617-1137. I also have a website, it's errandsbykimberly.com. There's also email on that website you can click on. Or you can type it directly to customerservice@errandsbykimberly.com.

3:24 Jeff Weinstein

All right. Let's make sure they can spell it. Kimberly, K-I-M-B-E-R-L-Y, right?

3:30 Kimberly Berrier

That's correct.

3:31 Jeff Weinstein

All right. So errandsbykimberly.com and Kimberly's over in the Tyler area. And so I take it that is there some geographic limitation here for you? Somebody calls in-- I understand you live over near Chandler somewhere. Isn't that right?

3:50 Kimberly Berrier

Yes. I live in the city of Chandler. That's kind of my base. But actually, I base my radius around Tyler, and more specifically, I just include the counties of Anderson, Henderson, Smith and even Gregg county, and partial Wood county. It just kind of depends.

4:09 Kimberly Berrier

I have a marketing partnership with Brookshire's I offer discount for services through their Thank You card and then Brookshire's promotes me. So it covers several stores in Brookshire's east Texas market as well. So it's a wide range of coverage, probably a 60 to 70 mile range around Tyler.

4:30 Jeff Weinstein

Wow. OK. Fantastic. I think it's great business plan, and we know it's a relatively new business for you, so we wish the best of luck.

4:41 Kimberly Berrier

Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

4:44 Jeff Weinstein

So the story that I read in the newspaper told the story of somebody who's opened an exciting new business, Errands by Kimberly, but you have a very unique story as far as growing up. You have a very close connection with what we talk about and try to always figure out how to stop, and that's drinking and driving. Would you mind sharing with our listeners the basic facts of the story that relates to you and your mom?

5:23 Kimberly Berrier

Sure. I don't mind at all. And it's a story I've told many times, so there's feelings, of course, there and everything, but my matter of fact tone is just, basically, like you said, it's simply fact.

5:37 Kimberly Berrier

My mom and I were traveling with a family friend from Elkhart, Texas, which is up here in East Texas, back to our home, where we lived down in Baytown, Texas, which is where I was born, down near Houston. We'd just finished visiting my grandparents. And it was a Sunday afternoon. We made it. We got all the way from Elkhart to Dayton Texas, and about 20 miles north of Baytown, approximately, and it was a two lane road. We were traveling in a large car. Nice weather.

6:14 Kimberly Berrier

I was 18 months old. My mom was 26. And our passenger was a male friend of hers. I was standing up in the front seat. This was back in June 24, 1979, so back then, children were all over the car, and I just happened to be of hanging out in the front seat, in between my mom and the driver.

6:37 Kimberly Berrier

And as we were driving down, a fellow that had left the bar with his truck-- I believe the record states he was in his mid 20's-- just left the bar, crested at a hill, and tried to pass a car in front of him. Came into our lane, of course, to pass that car. Ended up getting so far over on our side of the road, he was on the shoulder. And the driver of our car tried to, of course, the best effort, to avoid it, first by turning further to the right, and then just he was swerving right, the drunk driver decided to get back on his lane. Our driver swerved left, end up hitting us on head on, on my mom's side of the car. On the front passenger side.

7:23 Kimberly Berrier

It was a very high speed accident, and certainly a brutal crash. But just seconds before-- because I don't know really how long he had to react, but I imagine 30 seconds or less-- seeing him coming, my mom actually turned, and threw her entire body, arms and legs, around me, and kept me from going through the windshield. And she received most of the impact of the accident.

7:52 Kimberly Berrier

Our driver was seriously injured, with broken jaw, broken leg, he was knocked out. He had to have a lot of reconstructive surgery and therapy. My leg was broken in three places. My collar bone was broken, and bruised my heart. And she received so many fractures that, basically, it fractured every bone in her body but her spine. And it crushed her face. Multiple internal injuries, massive bleeding.

8:22 Kimberly Berrier

And we were taken to a local hospital there near Dayton, Liberty County, and then we were flow to Hermann Hospital in Houston, life flighted there. The drunk driver was seriously injured, but he did live. The people in the car in front him that he tried to pass, were run off the road, but they weren't seriously injured, as far as my knowledge. And my mom and I were Hermann hospital. I was in there for a week. And I was released after a week. She was in there for three weeks. She went through multiple surgeries. She had a tracheotomy in the throat. And she was in traction. She couldn't move. Jaws wired shut. She had a lot of serious injuries, but she was conscious. She was aware at a certain point. They did reconstructive surgery on her face, and, from what I understand, they did a great job. But she was, obviously, very depressed, and very despondent, and she ended up succumbing to her injuries about three weeks after the accident. And the cause of death was septic shock. Basically the internal injuries caused poison in the blood, and she went into cardiac arrest and passed away.

9:44 Jeff Weinstein

We are talking about something that basically happened 30 years ago? 31 years ago. Do you ever have a day that goes by where you really don't think about it or some aspect of it?

10:04 Kimberly Berrier

The aspect of the accident itself, of course-- you know I think of her death, and naturally I have to think of the cause. I think more of her life, and what I missed out on because of that. Of course, the event itself, obviously, is always there. But what makes me sadder is the fact that she's not able to be with me. And the more the holidays are hard. And a lot of people would tell me through the years-- I've told my story often, obviously, like I said, it's been 31 years, so-- people have said to me in the past, at least you didn't know her. Or at least you were a baby. At least you couldn't remember her. And that's not fair because people lose their parents at different times of their life, and it's never easy. So what I missed out on was the mom that raised me.

10:55 Kimberly Berrier

I had a wonderful grandmother that took me in after the accident. My grandparents took care of me. But, I guess you could say that the accident does come to mind quite often when I think of her. Not more death, but more life that I missed out on.

11:15 Jeff Weinstein

Well it's always interesting to me to hear people say, well, at least you didn't get to know her. And that's supposed to be some comfort. And as I was thinking about it-- I guess I shouldn't share my age-- but I was thinking, basically, in June of 1979, I had just graduated from high school. And I had my whole life ahead of me. You remember how fearless you are when you graduate from high school?

11:46 Jeff Weinstein

And I was just doing some simple math and, basically, there have been over 11,000 days since the day of this horrific crash that you have been without a mom. I mean the stories that we all take for granted, just picking up the phone and saying, hey, how are you doing? And I'm not trying to take you to a place of sadness. The reality is you don't have that.

12:18 Kimberly Berrier

No. And like I said, it's sorrowful. You haven't seen pictures of my mom, but we do favor quite a bit anybody that I've shown pictures to-- especially the ones that they don't really know. I've shown a picture to somebody and they're like, oh, when did you have that made? And I'm like, that's my mother. I mean we look a like. We have the same mannerisms in a lot of ways. And of course, unfortunately, this stuff that I only know because of what's been told to me.

12:49 Kimberly Berrier

I remember two years ago, my mom had a younger sister and an older brother. And the younger sister provided me with an eight millimeter film of my mom, just a little three minute clip. And this is just about five or six years ago, and that was the first time I'd ever seen her actually in movement. I'd seen still pictures and stuff like that, but it was just fascinating to me. Of course, the movies don't have sound, so I still don't know what she sounds like. But at the same time, it was really nice to-- she's more than this character.

13:24 Kimberly Berrier

It's kind of what [UNINTELLIGIBLE] there. They're a person that existed that you didn't get to know, but I'm blessed that I do have her looks. And certainly, I know that there have been times that she would have been really proud of me and stuff like that.

13:45 Kimberly Berrier

It goes beyond that element of not just me, but I have children of my own. I have a 12 year old son and a 7 year old son that will never know her. And just now at the age that they understand that I had a mom. That the mom they've know, which is my grandmother-- I call her mother, but that's not my mom. There's a missing link there, and that's your grandma, and she's in heaven. She's always going to be young and beautiful. That's the kind of things I think about when I try to be positive about it. She was a good person and didn't deserve that.

14:29 Jeff Weinstein

You were 18 months old at the time this happened. When was the first time that you recall that you really knew what had happened? Not so much the crash itself, but that your mom was gone? And that she would not be a part of your life?

14:50 Kimberly Berrier

When I was younger. Because after the accident, like I said, I went to live with my grandparents-- my maternal grandparents-- in Elkhart. That's how I ended up finally in east Texas for good. My pawpaw died when I was three, or just turned three. And it was just my grandmother and I [UNINTELLIGIBLE] When my pawpaw had died, I was just started to call him daddy, and I was just starting to call my grandma, mom.

15:17 Kimberly Berrier

My father had left less than a year prior to the accident. So he wasn't anywhere around, so they took that role. And then it was just me and my grandma. My grandfather died.

15:30 Kimberly Berrier

I remember probably till I was about six or seven thinking this is person-- her name is Andrea-- that this person was like my sister. That was kind of how it was portrayed. That she's in heaven, she's your sister. I guess that was the only way they knew how to cope and to explain. And probably about eight or nine years old is when I was told the story.

15:57 Kimberly Berrier

And then the story was told more in detail as I got a little bit older, or specifics of the accident. And the accident itself-- the things I've told you earlier-- were things I found out as an adult.

16:08 Kimberly Berrier

I wasn't always told the graphic details. And I don't tell those a lot. But somehow I feel like I should, because it happened. And I can't dishonor her by making light of her injuries.

16:22 Kimberly Berrier

But I would say probably seven or eight, I knew that she was more than what I thought. And about eight or nine, I knew exactly what had happened.

16:35 Jeff Weinstein

When you begin to realize what had truly happened-- and of course, you're obviously blessed to have your grandmother to help you and to be able to have around you-- does that cause any problems for you in your life? I mean from the standpoint of did you find yourself searching for answers? Or acting out, or doing anything that your grandmother would later say, you know, honey, we think that you're upset about this, or anything like that?

17:10 Kimberly Berrier

No. And I was such a passive child. And I think even children that aren't aware of specific things, or why think are, they have a sense of how to behave, and they feel a certain way. For example, I knew my father wasn't around. I knew my pawpaw had died. And it was just me and my grandma. And then I realized that my mom passed away. So instead of me rebelling or being a wild child, I was more afraid to rock the boat. I was afraid to make anybody angry, because they might leave too. No matter if my mom left voluntarily or, obviously, involuntarily. That was my perception so I was very shy, and nervous, but just feared that if I make somebody else mad, or if I act sad, then I might lose them too.

18:07 Kimberly Berrier

So it did make me fascinated with-- not fascinated with death, per se, I don't want to sound like a morbid person, but just mortality, in general. It just made me want to know more about her, and conjure up these ideas in my head.

18:24 Kimberly Berrier

You know when you're a child, your imagination is much broader than you are when you are an adult. Just these grandiose fantasies that maybe one she really isn't dead, and she'll come back. So that means it kind of got me lost in an imaginary world for awhile. Not to a point where I needed psychiatric treatment. Those were things I kept myself. And really till now, I haven't even said that out loud.

18:49 Kimberly Berrier

I didn't have any rebellion issues. Obviously, when I got to teenage years, I had rejection issues based on my father. I'd come to terms with that wasn't my mom's fault. And there was anything that could have avoided it, except for that man not getting into his truck and drinking and driving. But ultimately it wasn't her fault. She didn't leave me on purpose.

19:08 Kimberly Berrier

I read an account that one of the family members wrote about the whole three weeks, that they would show my mom pictures of me, just letting her know that I was OK. Kimberly's OK, don't worry. I was all she had at that point, basically. I mean she had some close friends, but I was all she had, in Baytown. Her parents were up in East Texas. She had a sister nearby, but I was her world. And she would just cry and weep. And she couldn't speak, so she would just cry and shake her head. So when I found that out that made me even more sad. Because, especially after I became a mother myself, I can't imagine knowing I'm not going to be able to be with my kids, and I know she sensed that, those whole three weeks, no matter how this ended up, it's not going to end up good.

20:02 Kimberly Berrier

So, it does something to you. It makes you think about mortality, and think about how quickly things change. We were just going home. We were just going home that day, and didn't make it.

20:19 Jeff Weinstein

You've got two children. And do you find yourself, when you're doing things with your children, thinking to yourself, I wonder if mom would have done this, or how she would have done that? Does that ever come into into play for you?

20:37 Kimberly Berrier

All the time. All the time. Because from what I understand, she was more a passive, gentle soul. And of course, people are going to tell me the best of the best about my mom. But across the board over the years, that's all I ever heard. She was just a really nice, gentle person, with a real sweet heart.

20:59 Kimberly Berrier

And and I'm not saying I'm bad. I'm just saying I'm more outgoing. I've got a little bit of wit, and sarcasm that I've often think, especially when it comes to me, that she would be one, be like oh, Kimberly, [UNINTELLIGIBLE] there you go again. She would laugh at me, and think I was mean then. But we have a lot of mannerisms the same. But at the same time, personalities are different.

21:23 Kimberly Berrier

But with my kids, I often think what would she be doing right now? What would she have given the boys for their birthdays? Or just stuff like that? Where would we be? Where would she be? I used to think that more back in my past.

21:41 Kimberly Berrier

I've kind of moved on from that, as far as what if, what if. But those little things like you say with my kids, just have the opportunity to know here. That's such a missing link there. Just even how my kids perceive me. I don't have the mom like they do. I don't have the mom like their dad's do. And I don't think they quite understand it yet, what's missing, they just know it's not the same.

22:14 Jeff Weinstein

I think about all the times that I had with my grandparents. All my grandparents were alive until I was 30 years old. And all of the different things that I got to do. And of course, you would do the things with your grandmother, but your children, unfortunately will not get to experience. It sounds like you're grandmother's still living, right?

22:37 Kimberly Berrier

Yes. She is living in Palestine, close to where I was raised. She has moderate, OK, health, but she's not really able to be involved. And hasn't been involved as far as traveling even to Tyler to be with grand kids. We do take trips out there, but it's not the same.

23:01 Kimberly Berrier

And growing up, she had to be the mom. And my great grandparents were my grandparents, but they were older, and already in ill health. So I didn't have the grandparent factor either, on my side. My grandmother was never allowed to be a grandma to me. She had other grandchildren she was able to do that, but with me, she had to be my mom. So that's difficult.

23:25 Kimberly Berrier

And my mom died in '79. And my pawpaw, which is my mom's father, died in 1981. So my grandmother lost her daughter and her husband in less than two years. And then had already taken on the responsibility which they wanted, they insisted in getting me, she lost so much in such a short amount of time, and then really no time to grieve and mourn herself.

23:55 Jeff Weinstein

She must be an incredible woman.

23:58 Kimberly Berrier

Oh, she is.

24:00 Kimberly Berrier

I learned a lot of independence from her. And I've explained to people in the past that I've talked about my fierce independence and determination. A lot of it's born out of just you have to. You don't have the man around to the male role model. Or the man around to do male tasks, or male responsibilities. Somebody has to do it. And I learned a lot there's pretty much anything I can't, can't do. It doesn't mean you want to do that without the male role model. But if they're not there, what are you going to do?

24:36 Kimberly Berrier

So she was very strong. She was the anchor in our family. And we would host the holidays a lot during my childhood. And being raised by a grandmother that can be to some a disadvantage in a way. But at the same time, it was a blessing, because there's that generation gap.

24:58 Kimberly Berrier

She introduced me to things like theater. I loved theater in high school, so I performed in plays. And we would go to like the Palestine State Theater, and watch [UNINTELLIGIBLE] museums, and enrolled me in the Christian school there, in Palestine, while it was running back in the '80's. She introduced me to a lot of things I might have missed out on. I can't say that, really. She introduced me to things despite everything else I went through.

25:21 Kimberly Berrier

I think that was one of God's blessings to me. The ability to have those things despite how my life had started basically. She was a very, very strong woman. And just a great person. And had ups and downs in life, but always took care of me. And I'll ever regret that.

25:46 Jeff Weinstein

What is it, and again, you told me you told this story many times-- what is it that you'd really like, if to those who are going to listen to your story, and those who have read your story, what is it that you would like for them to take away from the story that might help them in their lives?

26:10 Kimberly Berrier

Well from a drunk driving perspective-- and this could be for anybody that is making a poor choice-- but because this is about drunk driving and that's ultimately what played the major factor in my life, that don't drink and drive. And don't consider for a second that oh well, I may be in an accident, I may not be. I'll take that chance, because the chance you're taking is too big of a chance, and once it happens, it doesn't matter. It doesn't affect just the people involved in the accident on that day, whether lives are taken or not, even passing somebody for multiple people for generations.

26:57 Kimberly Berrier

I mean this story that I've told you today will play out over years. This is just in progress. The missing link is just the progression. It'll affect my grandchildren. It'll affect numerous people. It affects so many people out there that this same incident.

27:20 Kimberly Berrier

You could interview the driver and he's got his story, and his relationship with her, and how it affected him. And it just goes on and on and on. It doesn't stop when the dust settles and the wreckage is cleared. It goes way beyond that. And just really consider your choices on your actions.

27:43 Kimberly Berrier

And I like I said that can go for anybody trying to make a major decision, or even something that you don't think is that big of a deal, is really. Think about your actions before you take that step, whether it's towards the keys after you've been drinking or just anything. Just think about it. Stop and think.

28:06 Jeff Weinstein

Have you ever spoken with this drunk driver?

28:10 Kimberly Berrier

No. I have not. All the information I have-- and I did actually try to find the records on actual accident itself-- but I didn't try to find them till 20, 25 years later. And I was told that those records were destroyed. They don't exist anymore. So my account is based on facts and a newspaper article that I found in the Liberty County paper from that week. It's like a weekly paper or something. All I know is for certain that he lived. And that back in 1979, the punishment is nowhere near what it was to this day. So I think, basically, he got a slap on the wrist, from my understanding.

28:57 Kimberly Berrier

No one's ever tried to seek me out from that family. I really don't know the account of where he is now. I know he was from Houston, and I know he was about his mid-20's or so. And that's all I know.

29:11 Jeff Weinstein

All right. Kimberly Berrier, I know you don't believe this, but I've used up 29 minutes and 30 seconds of your life. And I can't tell you how much I appreciate you sharing your story that you have. Because I do believe that it will make someone think a little bit more about drinking and driving seeing what you've been through and how it's affected your family.

29:34 Jeff Weinstein

And I want to put one more plug in for Errands by Kimberly. So for those of you that are listening, please utilize Kimberly's services. Her number is 903-617-1137. On the web, errandsbykimberly.

29:52 Jeff Weinstein

And Kimberly, thanks again, for sharing the story. I really do appreciate it. I know our listeners do too. And I'm going be buzz you right back because we don't want the show to keep recording.

30:03 Kimberly Berrier

OK. Thank you so much.

30:04 Jeff Weinstein