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Athens teen warns against drunk driving
Jana Miller's life came to a screeching halt Jan. 24, 2004.
A 16-year-old Athens High School sophomore, Miller was driving east on state Route 681 when her car veered off the right side of the road and flipped on its top into a 5-foot-deep creek.
Though Miller was not seriously injured, the crash killed Miller's two best friends -14-year-old Olivia Sole and 16-year-old Maggie Tabler.
Now, as a part of her court punishment, Miller will relive the experience almost 500 times.
Miller was found guilty of two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and sentenced to 90 days in jail, a $750 fine for each charge and 500 hours of community service -with a stipulation that all 500 hours be completed through lecturing.
Now, Miller, 17, who also lost her driver's license for three years, spends almost all her free time giving one-hour presentations about the accident. So far she has completed about 280 hours and has two years to complete the remaining 220. She speaks more than five times a week to high school students, driver's education classes and Ohio University organizations.
It's extremely draining
Miller said. Every night
I get off the bus and go to a presentation. I don't have a high school life anymore. Because Miller has no license, her mother, 38-year-old Angela Hall, drives Miller to most of the presentations. We don't have family time
Hall said. I still have my friends
but I don't see them anymore. Still, Miller does not want others to go through what she has endured, and completing the court-ordered service has even made her consider a career in public speaking. I only wish that other people didn't have to learn the hard way
she said. Miller's presentation pays tribute to her deceased friends and goes into great detail about the night of the accident. OU junior Adrienne Yeager, the treasurer of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity that had Miller speak at one of its meetings, said the presentation was amazing. It's sort of like a comparison between her life then and her life now
she said. In her presentation, Miller said the night began just like any other; she and Tabler had a movie night planned at Miller's house, and the girls were on their way back from picking up Sole when Miller's boyfriend at the time, Ryan Mingus, called. Mingus, who was 18 at the time, was hanging out with some friends at his family's cabin and invited the girls to join him. Though the girls knew alcohol would be at the cabin, and they would still have to drive home, they nevertheless decided to stop by for a while. The girls had consumed alcohol before, Miller said, but usually their drinking only involved stealing alcohol from their parents' refrigerators and having girl talk. We always thought we were responsible drinkers
she said. I only went to one party in my entire life
and I didn't even drink at that party. The girls left the cabin around 9:15 p.m. so they would be home in time for their original movie-night plans at 9:30 p.m. Miller said she does not recall anything about the five-minute drive between the cabin and the crash site. I don't remember anything about that drive
Miller said. (When I woke up)
I remember water pouring in the front window