Watertown— 22 year old, Danielle Pitcher spoke to Jefferson Community College students yesterday, warning them on the dangers of drinking and driving.
Back in 2012, Ms. Pitcher was convicted of vehicular manslaughter after driving while intoxicated in January of 2011. Ms. Pitcher suffered cracked ribs, broken sternum, broken tailbone, knee lacerations, and a collapsed lung. But, the death of best friend Gabrielle Acevedo was by far the biggest tragedy.
Ms. Pitcher told JCC students that she had a normal upbringing, graduating 16th in her high school class and venturing off to Nazareth College directly thereafter. Daughter of a police officer, Ms. Pitcher never imagined that a night of drinking would change her life and those within the community forever. “I Googled myself in high school and my writing or sports stuff popped up. I Google myself now and mug shots pop up,” said Ms. Pitcher. “Trust me, this is not the sort of thing anyone should have to experience. I killed my best friend Gabrielle and took a life from her parents. No parents should have to bury their child.”
Ms. Pitcher managed to graduate from Nazareth College with a dual major in Psychology and Sociology, serving weekends in jail. Once she graduated, she served the remainder of her sentence, two and a half months in jail with 5 years of probation remaining.
“The reason why we brought Danielle in, is because we’re getting close to Spring Break and her story is one that the students need to hear,” said Assistant Director of Student Activities at JCC, Tom Wojcikowski. “Students need to be aware of the choices they make when faced with a situation like Danielle was. This is to educate students on the dangers of drinking and driving. Hopefully, they can walk away making smart decisions.”
Ms. Pitcher plans on speaking to as many students and schools as possible. She has plans to speak not only in areas within New York, but Connecticut and various east coast locations. In the future, Ms. Pitcher wants to eventually start up a website designated towards drinking and driving awareness for college students. Her goal is to eventually have a Gabrielle Acevedo Scholarship for college students that decide to make smart choices in their lives.