DWI crash victim shares dangers of drunk driving at RCCC

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 24, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Lee Cooper knows exactly what kind of damage drunk drivers can do when they get behind the steerling wheel.
It’s been more than a decade since his wife, Liza McFee Cooper, and unborn child died at the hands of an intoxicated driver, but the memory haunts him every day.
Cooper survived the wreck, but his road to recovery has been rocky. He suffered a double brain injury and spent years going through rehabilitation.
“They said I should never have survived,” he said.
His left hand is still mangled from the accident and nerve damage and photosensory problems continue to linger.
But today, he’s an honor roll student at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, where he is taking general education courses in preparation for a business major.
And last week he took two days to tell other students about the deadly effects of driving drunk during health fairs on the college’s North and South campuses.
“I told them it doesn’t matter what walk of like you are, you might fall victim to a drunk driving accident,” he said. “I want to make it where they will personally grasp the idea.”
Cooper also arranged for a drunk driving simulator to be on hand to allow students to feel what it’s like to get behind the wheel intoxicated.
“I tried to make it as real as possible,” he said. “I want them to see how it alcohol affects their reactions.”
Although Cooper has managed to overcome his injuries he said he wants to make sure no one has to suffer through the things he’s endured. That’s why he’s planning more events to help get his story out.
“There is one message that I would love for people to understand — stop, think and give up the keys,” he said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.