A Lesson Learned
Baker is not telling her story for sympathy. Her pictures aren't meant to impress. She's standing in front of a roomful of students to tell them the lesson she learned the hard way.
"and I hope a lot of you in this audience will never drink at all," Baker told the assembly.
About three years ago, just days before her twenty-first birthday, Baker and a group of three other friends hopped in a Jeep for a ride down a Kirksville country road. The intent was to kill time.
"As we were going down the road, one of the gentleman in the back stood up and climbed on top of the roll bar and flipped over in the Jeep and flipped into my lap," Baker said. "It pulled my arms from the wheel. We slid into a gravel road, hit a utility pole, spun us 180 degrees and sent us airborne. The Jeep rolled and we hit a building. Everyone was ejected."Baker was thrown inside the building.
"I remember crawling out of the building. When I got out on the gravel driveway. That's when I found all my friends laying in the gravel," Baker said.
The crash killed 21-year-old Jacob, and injured Baker.
"Snapped my left jaw in half. My right ear was torn almost completely off in the back," Baker said.
She spent eight days in the hospital. The crash also killed her best friend, Joel.
"I couldn't even say goodbye to my best firend. The decisions we made that day killed two people and it was my hands that were behind the wheel," Baker explained.
The state convicted Baker of involuntary manslaughter. She received 5 years probation.
"I can't run from this. I'll never get away from it. I don't think that you would want to either," Baker said. She encourages students to think about the choices they make. The Council for Drug Free Youth said had it not been for the United Way, stories like Baker's wouldn't exist because students wouldn't get the chance to hear them. The United Way of Central Missouri funded the program that brought Baker to Simonsen.
"It's just so sad. It just makes them think about how easy it would have been for them to be in that situation," Carol Reichard of the Council for Drug Free Youth said.
Baker's court ordered public speaking has ended but she continues to tell her story.
"This is the time now to make the right decisions and once you start to make wrong decisions, it can kill you and dead is forever. You don't come back from being dead," Baker instructed the students.
Next month, Baker heads to Canada to speak to law enforcement personnel about the dangers of impaired driving.