Registered Nurse Jackie Conely inspires others to drink and drive responsibly.
Jackie Conely, RN at Renown Regional Medical Center, could have walked away from her near collision with a drunk driver with gratitude only. And while she is extremely grateful that her family is alive and healthy today, her narrow escape changed her life. She now shares her story with people convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) at court-ordered Victim Impact Panels.
I’m not the same person and I never will be,” says Jackie. “Just knowing that you’re one second away from everything you’ve worked so hard for being taken from you. It’s hard,” she adds. “Now I’m totally focused on trying to bring awareness to drunk driving, because I know how close I was to being one of those victims who can’t talk.”
On Dec. 1, 2012, a woman with a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit began driving the wrong way on Interstate 80 near Fernley. A highway trooper dispatched to the scene shined his spotlight at approaching motorists to warn them.
Rob Conely, an off-duty state trooper and Jackie’s husband, was in the passenger seat of the car Jackie was driving and saw the warning light. He quickly told Jackie to change lanes, and the family — including their sons ages 2 and 4 — narrowly avoided a head-on collision. The drunk driver then collided with three other vehicles and was killed. No one else was injured or killed.
“To get in a car and kill a mom, dad and two young sons — I don’t think that was [the driver’s] intent, and that’s what I’m trying to get across,” Conely relates. “Everybody at the panels is court ordered to be there because they’ve gotten a DUI. So I’m just trying to get them to realize: ‘This may not be your intent, but this is what can happen.’”
A few attendees have approached Conely after hearing her speak at panels to say she’s made a difference in their lives. And she will persist in speaking out against driving under the influence because of her harrowing experience and her profound new appreciation for life. “Every day’s a blessing and you’re not guaranteed tomorrow,” she says. “I just try to be the best person I can be, and that’s why I’m trying to reach out and help.”