The Ticket's Sean Bass and His Sobering Stance on Driving Drunk

After surviving the drunken-driving accident that killed his girlfriend, a local sports-talker takes his pain on the air.

"You're keeping this man," she advised Heather.


As Sean and Heather travelled east along West Centerville Road that September night, 18-year-old Osvaldo Cerda was coming the other way, driving a Ford Expedition. He was shirtless, wearing dark jean shorts. And he was moving fast.

A man and a woman driving behind Cerda watched as the Ford suddenly accelerated and made a sharp left turn. But there was nowhere to turn. The Ford jumped the median and collided with Sean's car, hitting the passenger's side.

"I know it could have been both of us," Sean Bass says.
Courtesy of Debra and Alan VanHoozer
"I know it could have been both of us," Sean Bass says.
Osvaldo Cerda, 19, is charged with intoxication manslaughter.
Osvaldo Cerda, 19, is charged with intoxication manslaughter.

Details

Email the author at anna.merlan@dallasobserver.com.

Cerda sat in the car for a few moments, the witnesses later told police. Then, he reached to his right, picked up a beer can and put it to his lips. He threw open the driver's side door, tossed the can on the ground and crushed it. He looked around.

Kenneth Golsby got to Sean and Heather first. A 34-year-old flag football coach, he'd been parked at a nearby Quik Trip when he heard the sound of an engine revving. Golsby spun around, and he and his young son watched together as the Ford T-boned the Nissan. Golsby told his son to stay put and ran to the silver car.

When he got there, he saw a man in the driver's seat holding the head of his female passenger. Sean had opened his door, but Heather's was so crushed in, she couldn't have opened it even if she'd been able to try.

"Stay with me, Heather," Golsby heard Sean say. "Stay with me."

Golsby grabbed his phone to call 911, but Sean had already gotten through to a dispatcher. Police received several calls over the next few minutes, as traffic ground to a halt around the accident.

"Keep her right there," Golsby instructed Sean. "Don't move her."

Golsby noticed that Heather was still breathing, gasping for air. Her face was bloody.

For the first time, Golsby also noticed Cerda, who'd gotten out of his car and was approaching them.

"Is she OK?" Cerda asked.

"Have a seat," Golsby replied tersely.

Instead, witnesses say, Cerda attempted to get into several different cars. Golsby says Cerda started with a little black car, trying to get into the back passenger's side door.

"I thought it was his buddy," Golsby says. Only when the driver shouted at Cerda to get out of the car did Golsby realize what was going on.

He stepped up and placed his hands on Cerda's chest. "Have a seat," he said again, directing Cerda toward the median.

"Have you been drinking?" another bystander asked Cerda. "Do you have a license?"

Golsby walked back toward Sean's car to check on him and Heather. Sean was still holding Heather's head up; she was no longer gasping. Golsby looked up to check on Cerda. He was running now, east, toward an overpass bridge along Centerville.

"Stop him!" Golsby shouted. He took off after Cerda, who was ducking and weaving between cars. He had about a 30-yard lead and it was widening fast.


It's a Wednesday morning in January, four months after the accident, and "Call Me Maybe" is playing at a tasteful volume in the blue-walled lobby of Cumulus Media, the Victory Park radio conglomerate that's home to KTCK-AM 1310 The Ticket and its sister stations. Sean rushes into the lobby, greets the receptionist hastily and steams full-speed into the break room. He pours a cup of black coffee, hurries down a long hallway and pulls open a heavy soundproof door. He nods hello to two sound engineers, young guys with glasses splayed before an expanse of computer screens and mixing boards.

"How's the a.m. shift?" he asks no one in particular. "You hit a wall yet?" He grabs a list of the day's sponsors from a desk, then takes a blank sheet of paper and starts scribbling down a rough schedule of when he'll announce them. He rushes into the next room, to his own work station, a dim little nest with its own sound board, a microphone and a computer. There's a press conference playing soundlessly on ESPN; he barely glances at it as he pages frenziedly through the sports section of The Dallas Morning News, looking for items for his first news bulletin of the day. He'll do 15 "Ticket Tickers" over the course of his five-hour shift, hyper little bursts of sports news interspersed with the station's commentary, bits, interviews and live sponsor reads.

"This first one is always the hardest," he says, barely glancing up and typing furiously in all caps.

In the weeks after the accident, Sean says, it was as though he had two opposing currents pushing against him. On one side, he felt immense pain and frustration, made worse by his knowledge of how much Heather's family was suffering. On the other side, he felt incredibly, guiltily grateful to be alive. The crash that killed Heather left Sean with only minor bumps and bruises.

"I just know it could have been both of us," he says quietly. "I want to live for her too now, in a way."

Sean came back to work a week or so after the accident. He quickly realized that his place on the Ticket gave him a platform — and, as he saw it, a responsibility — that few other victims of drunk driving will ever have. He soon began talking about the accident on-air and on Twitter, where he changed his avatar to an image of Heather snuggling his dog. He wants people to have a constant, small reminder of her, even when he's tweeting about batting averages or knee injuries.

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30 comments
somethingfunny
somethingfunny

I am disturbed to see the precise directions to get from my house to the nearest grocery store spelled out in the fifth paragraph.  NOBODY interesting lives in my neighborhood, or so I thought.  What else has Garland been hiding from me???

michellereynolds1994
michellereynolds1994

I know Heather's parents and her personally.  What a beautiful family they were and always will be.  May God watch over Debra and Alan in their darkest hours.

Michelle - GH


MariannaW
MariannaW

Godspeed some peace to all involved. My first hand experience is the crosses are disappearing because TXDOT or local city crews are removing them. They slow down roadside maintenance crews and give a bad impression. At least that's what my family was told when an illegal killed my sister and her two kids on I35 outside of Austin. Priorities????

RadioGaGa
RadioGaGa

I wonder how many times Sean Bass drank and drove before the accident.

It's insensitive that his co-workers have nicknamed him “Killer.”

RadioGaGa
RadioGaGa

P1 actually means "First Preference," as in a listener's first preference among multiple radio stations that s/he listens to.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

"Sometimes — more often than he'd like, and even though he knows it's not healthy, that it won't change anything — Sean Bass thinks of all the different routes he could've taken to the store."

This could have been any of us; on any given day, when some irresponsible fool decides to temp fate, and drive while he or she shouldn't driving.  This effects all of us, and everyone knows someone touched by this sort of tragedy. Whole families have been wiped out by drunk people......it is time for this to stop!  

I don't know if the answer is taking away someone's license for good, on the first offense, or mandatory breathalyzers in EVERYONE'S vehicle?  It just has to stop. 

EastDallasDad
EastDallasDad

Anna you told this terrible story eloquently. I'm a P1 and it was a very powerful moment when Sean told this story on the air. 

Hopefully you've reached a few more people with the message that it just isn't worth it. Drink at home, sleep it off at a friend's house or get a room, have a designated driver or call a cab. 

bdonovan1980
bdonovan1980

One more American killed by a drunk driving mexican.  Wonderful.

Is it time for the next amnesty yet?

Storm_71
Storm_71

Very good job Anna. My thoughts go out to Heather's parents and Sean. I'm am so very sorry for your loss.

ted.wick
ted.wick

Props  to SeaBass for using The Ticket as an avenue to raise awareness about drunk driving. That can not be easy, especially the fact that doing so could loose some valuable ad dollars from the alcohol companies. My thoughts and prayers go to the family as well, this can not be easy to deal with.


I however am a little concerned about the situation with the suspect. If he was here illegally and had been arrested before for marijuana charges, why was he not deported? I think this question needs to be answered in my opinion, it seems like someone dropped the ball on that one.

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

@donjames2011.....Congratulations. 28 years is a milestone. Recongnizing you needed to even make a change is sometimes a bigger milestone

David Swinney
David Swinney

Great article. Best wishes from this P1 to Seabass and to Heather's family. I can't imagine the pain they are working through.

donjames2011
donjames2011

30 years ago, I had to serious wrecks while driving drunk. Thankfully both wrecks were 1 car wrecks. I only injured myself and tore my car up. I stopped drinking 28 years ago, but when I hear about incidents like this, I still cringe at the memories. Please dont drink and drive. The lives you save will probably be innocent people.

leeeeeeeeee
leeeeeeeeee

This hit me right in the feels. I'm so glad SeaBass has The Ticket to help get his story across.

WatchingSouthDetroit
WatchingSouthDetroit

When I was young, I would drink and drive - sometimes the next day I couldn't believe how stupid and irresponsible I was.  One thing if I killed just myself but I could not imagine if my stupidity resulted in injuring or killing an innocent person that had nothing to do with what I chose to do.  Now I make sure I am a passenger or make sure I wait a long while after the last drink (and drink moderately).   One person "having a night out" could greatly impact many others.

JMarrsofDoom
JMarrsofDoom

@RadioGaGa Sean isn't nicknamed "Killer."  Jason Kellison is.  

I don't think how many times he drank and drove before the accident is important in the slightest.  I think the important thing is that he doesn't do it now, and is trying his hardest to get other people to make the same change.  

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@EastDallasDad 

I've heard Sean reference this incident a couple of times, and it tugs at the heart strings; one night they even talked about this incident on the Fan. My deepest sympathies go out to Sean, and family. 

joearpaio
joearpaio

@Anna Merlan A donation to your favorite 12-step group may be a better choice than one to MADD.

bdonovan1980
bdonovan1980

@ted.wick  - it's called catch and release.  The feds don't want to deport any poor mexican who may vote for the dems after the next amnesty.

welcome1
welcome1

@ted.wick seems like the ball always get's dropped for issues in this area

welcome1
welcome1

@WatchingSouthDetroit sadly it's the one whom don't care about anything drive intoxicated...... They think they care when they are sober though, how funny is that....

ted.wick
ted.wick

@welcome1 I mean I am all for immigration into this country, it's how this country was founded. But we need to have some reformations, obviously. I find it baffling that I have friends from college that got deported after they got their education, yet this punk was able to stay in this country illegally after getting arrested for marijuana and now this happened.


Anyways I don't want to turn this into an immigration debate, I am deeply saddened by this and my heart goes out to the family and SeaBass. The main message in this is that there are many victims of drunk driving, victims who loose their lives or get seriously injured because someone else made a poor decision.

welcome1
welcome1

@ted.wickwhen it comes to the PD following up an doing their job, I see this 1st hand where I work day in day of the dept's the ball is always getting passed of to someone else for the grunt work. When someone runs like this person did his penalties should be 20 fold more, no excuses. Eye for an eye when it comes to intoxicated punks like this......


cowboyesfan
cowboyesfan

@ted.wick @welcome1 I think cause the guy who killed his girlfriend was an illegal alien and criminal.

 
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