Thanksgiving is a time when family comes together and celebrates, but for 13-year-old Lauren Nevil, it's a time of excruciating sadness as she is reminded of the Thanksgiving she lost her mother to a drunk driver. Last November Lauren, her mom Katy, and the rest of the family were driving from their home in Tennessee to spend the holiday with family in Texas. John David Coe was driving drunk. He would, tragically, meet up with the Nevil family on a dark stretch of highway and destroy their lives forever. Last week Lauren bravely confronted him in the courtroom, where Coe was sentenced to 40 years in jail.

Not only was Coe driving drunk, he was driving with his own daughters, 9 and 12 years old, in his car. After the crash, Lauren spent 161 days in the hospital suffering from serious injuries including brain trauma. But the worst part was that her mother Katy was dead.

Lauren's victim impact statement said, in part:

You have ruined my life forever, do you realize that? Now I will have to live my life without a mom. Maybe he [God] one day will forgive you, and you can go to heaven, where you forced my mom to be today. May God show you the right path to lead you on.

Despite all of the publicity and the harsh laws surrounding drunk driving, fatalities due to drunk driving increased slightly last year. Washington D.C. has the least number of fatalities, Texas the most. The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve is one of the most dangerous times to be on the roads. At Christmas, 43 percent of all vehicle fatalities are drunk driving related.

Lauren will never have a mom because one man chose to get behind the wheel while drunk. And Lauren is certainly not alone. Thousands of children lose their moms and moms lose their children over the holidays all because of a very preventable crime.

Please do not drive drunk over the holidays -- or any time. Don't let anyone you know drive drunk. Think of Lauren and her mom, Katy.

Do you have a plan for the holidays to keep safe?


Image via Kazuakih/ Flickr