Jacob Evans lost his wife, Santa Clarita mother of six Katie Evans, in a DUI crash in 2017, and continued to speak out against drunk driving during the latest “The Way Out Recovery Hour” on KHTS.
Katie Evans was on her way home from visiting the couple’s premature twins in the hospital on Oct. 6, 2017, when she was hit by a drunk driver, then 21-year-old Alexia Cina, on Golden Valley Road.
“(Alexia) was going way in excess of the speed limit. There was another car that she was trying to get around. She lost complete control, jumped the median and hit Katie’s car like a rocket,” Jacob Evans said. “The damage to the car (Katie) was in was incredible… I mean, she never had a chance.”
Evans noted that he never thought drinking and driving would be an issue for his family, as neither he nor his wife had ever had a sip of alcohol in their life.
“Using alcohol or drugs and making decisions like getting behind the wheel of a car or those other dangerous things that you can do under the influence can have an impact on somebody who’s never even had alcohol,” said Bob Sharits, program director at The Way Out Recovery Rehab Santa Clarita. “(You think), ‘We don’t drink -- we’re never going to have problems with alcohol. That’s one thing we never have to worry about.’ And then, boom, here it is in your life.”
Since Katie’s death, Evans has become a local advocate against drinking and driving, releasing several public service announcements in partnership with KHTS before the holiday season and the 4th of July.
In addition, Evans is planning to partner with The Way Out Recovery SCV to visit local schools and speak to students about the dangers of driving under the influence.
“There will be some continued good that comes out of this tragedy,” Sharits said. “The efforts that you’ve made and the times that you’ve been able to be on any kind of media, the message is always very clear: Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t make this choice. Don’t drink and drive.”
In addition to this message, Evans has also actively encouraged people to speak up if they see someone else about to make the decision to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“You need to say something,” Evans said. “Sometimes people will say, ‘Hey, that’s none of my business.’ I say, ‘I don’t know why drinking and driving would be part of my business -- I never drank a day in my life, and yet here I lost my wife from it.’ So ultimately we all have a responsibility to help out, and in a day of Uber and Lyft, there’s really no excuse for drinking and driving.”
The driver believed to be responsible for the crash that killed Katie, Alexia Cina, pled no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in July 2018 in exchange for having the other charges against her -- including a murder charge -- dropped, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Evans attended the sentencing hearing and read a statement he had prepared for Cina before the courtroom with two goals in mind.
“I wanted to talk to her a little bit and share some things so she understood what she’d done, and also express my hope that she would pick up the pieces of her life,” Evans said. “(Katie) was really someone who loved people and she believed in second chances, and I knew that it was important that I be there to share that message with (Alexia), that I hoped she would use this as a second chance to change her life and be someone who would contribute to society and make the world a better place.”
Sharits concluded, “I wish there was a way that these really powerful messages didn’t have to start with a tragedy, but oftentimes they (do). And I’ll tell you, (Alexia) has an opportunity with her story… When this is said and done and she gets out of prison, she has a choice. She can take her story and save lives with it, and that’s what you’re asking her to do, and so I hope she does that as well.”
In Santa Clarita, drug issues are a major concern for many. The mission of the Santa Clarita rehab The Way Out Recovery SCV Drug and Alcohol Outpatient Treatment is to provide high quality, effective alcohol and drug outpatient treatment. The drug rehab’s goal is to assist adolescents, adults and their loved ones in becoming happily and usefully whole, free from drug addiction. Those seeking Santa Clarita drug treatment or a teen drug rehab can rest assured that The Way Out Recovery’s philosophy is to teach lifelong coping skills and strategies to assist in improving quality of life and living happily and meaningfully without the need of destructive behaviors.
The Way Out Recovery SCV
28118 Bouquet Canyon Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91350