Even for those who have never been an accident victim in a situation involving drunk driving, the effects of such incidents can extend far beyond the expected injuries and medical expenses.

A survivor’s permanent disability is just one lasting reminder of a notable 2010 Virginia drunk driving accident that left one woman dead. With an intoxicated driver crossing lanes on a narrow road, the subsequent crash severely injured two others.

Convicted of felony murder, the driver received a 20-year prison sentence, while one survivor received a virtual life sentence of medical maladies.

Yet another accident victim lost her life that fateful morning. Even more surprising, though, is how both the victims and the driver have changed since the accident.

“I think I might even be a nicer person,” noted one victim, a 71-year-old whose attitude is nothing short of inspiring. While the victim certainly wouldn’t want to experience the crash again, “I think I’m all the better for it.” The victim puts nearly a full-time effort into helping hospital patients in Richmond, Virginia, her own recovery experience a guiding light for others.

The driver has also emerged from the darkness of endless guilt, telling the judge at his recent sentencing that his life is now devoted to religion. The judge acknowledged this devotion at the driver’s hearing.

In drunk driving accidents, sometimes the reactions involved can mirror the fact that the parties affected are treated equally under the law. “But for the grace of God,” noted one survivor, “I could be an alcoholic, and it could have been me behind that wheel.”

Source: The Washington Post, “Drunk driver gets 20 years for Va. crash that led to nun’s death,” Jeremy Borden, Feb. 3, 2012