Jesse Hill was home from his first semester at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where he was studying aerospace engineering. It was New Year’s Day, 2013, and Jesse and his girlfriend were walking to the park near her home. So much promise on a crisp, clear first afternoon of the year. It was a typical neighborhood scene, but suddenly the day was anything but typical.
A car came racing down the quiet street at triple the speed limit, when the driver hit a dip in the road and overcorrected—crossing over to the opposite side of the street, hitting a retaining wall, going airborne and colliding with the couple. Jesse, who locked eyes with the occupants, was able to position himself between the car and Anne-Marie, shielding her from the full impact.
Jesse was killed and Anne-Marie critically injured. The promise of 2013 disappeared for several families because a 20-year-old chose to drive impaired. The driver had two times the legal limit of alcohol in his system for someone of legal drinking age and seven times the legal limit of marijuana. Yet, he still chose to get behind the wheel of a 2,000-pound vehicle. At a rate of 40 miles per hour, 85 percent of pedestrians struck by a vehicle will die. At 75 miles per hour, it is a true testament to Jesse’s will and strength that Anne-Marie survived.
Just five short months earlier, Jesse had proudly registered to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. Eighty-eight people would receive Jesse’s gifts to heal them, restore their mobility and/or save their lives. Jesse’s mom speaks to others to tell Jesse’s story, cautioning them that getting behind the wheel of a vehicle impaired can impact many lives. Jesse’s killer was sentenced to eight to 20 years behind bars.