Two Cedar Rapids women whose children were killed by drunk drivers are urging Iowans to think before they drink and drive, especially during the holiday season. Five years ago at Christmastime, a drunk driver killed Sally Eggleston’s only son, Jeff.
“He came roaring up the hill and hit my son and took off,” she says. “It was a hit-and-run drunk driver.” Jeff was in his car when he was killed.
Seven years ago — on Valentine’s Day — Cindy Rathjen’s daughter, Jenny, was walking when she was hit by a drunk driver. “He drug her for four-and-a-half blocks underneath the car,” Rathjen says. “(Bystanders) heard her scream ‘Oh, my God, my leg’ and that was because her leg had got caught up underneath the wheel.” The two women give speeches to children and adult audiences around the state.
Rathjen tells even more stark details of her daughter’s death and burial to her audiences, in hopes of making her anti-drunk driving message stick. “It was unreal,” she says. “…It actually was an open casket, which was surprising, but it didn’t even look like her.”
Eggleston hasn’t put up Christmas decorations since her son’s death. She hopes her lectures make some people think before they drink and drive. “I tell everybody…be careful of what choices you make,” Eggleston says. Jeff Eggleston’s killer fell off a truck during his prison sentence, broke his neck and died. Jenny Rathjen’s hit-and-run killer was found, convicted and served about seven years in prison before she was released on parole. Since 2001, more than four-hundred Iowans have died in drunken driving car crashes.