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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Jerry Brown thrives on his mother's cooking: spaghetti, chicken wings, cheesecake. Fears about his lack of size prove unfounded. In eighth grade he stands nearly 6'2" and weighs almost 200 pounds. A teacher asks what he'll be when he grows up. Jerry's answer: NFL football player.
September 16, 2001
On a two-lane highway in Wyoming, a drunk 21-year-old steer wrestler named Clinton Haskins drives his pickup truck across the center line into the path of a Jeep Wagoneer that carries eight distance runners from the University of Wyoming: Joshua Jones, Kevin Salverson, Nicholas Schabron, Shane Shatto, Morgan McLeland, Kyle Johnson, Justin Lambert-Belanger and Cody Brown. All eight runners are killed. Haskins will plead guilty to aggravated homicide by vehicle and be sentenced to 14 to 20 years in prison.
June 3, 2002
Debbie Weir joins MADD as vice president of Victim Services at the national headquarters in Irving, Texas, less than three miles from the home field of the Cowboys. After dramatic gains and widespread popularity in its early years, MADD has reached a point of diminishing returns. It lobbies for tougher laws, but the beverage industry fights back. Others argue that MADD's well-meaning efforts infringe on the rights of responsible drinkers. Since 1994, alcohol-related traffic deaths have held steady at about 17,000 per year.
Nevertheless, Weir goes to work every day with the belief that drunken driving can be eliminated in her lifetime. In MADD's headquarters on the seventh floor of the 511 Building, overlooking the John W. Carpenter Freeway, the hallways are lined with photographs. Thousands of them: mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, all injured or killed by drunken driving. Some of the dead are frozen in their happiest moments—a woman in her wedding dress, a teenage boy at the senior prom—and some are shown with the wounds from the crash. As Weir walks to and from her office, the pictures flash by in her peripheral vision. Sometimes a face catches her eye for the first time, and she has to stop and look.
October 22, 2004
Jerry Brown and the Wolverines of Vashon High ride a bus through the urban wasteland of northwest St. Louis, singing the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song as they go: "In West Philadelphia born and raised/On the playground was where I spent most of my days...."
These days are the best of Jerry's life. His mother is now a trained chef, and she cooks for him both at home and at school, where she works in the cafeteria, and he and his friends cruise around town in his black Mitsubishi Galant and polish off three or four pounds of wings in one sitting at Syberg's on Market Street. Jerry is so big and tough that no one hassles him about his interest in fashion design, which extends to drawing pictures of pantsuits and sewing a dress that a female classmate wears to a fashion show. He's so lovable that he and his friends can walk into school around the middle of first period without serious consequences. That's Jerry: arriving on his own time since the day he was born. He's so talented that he can spend hours on video games and Airsoft rifles and still be the Public High League's defensive player of the year.