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.

"I can't bring my girlfriend back," he says. "I can't do anything to make her parents feel better. But I have to do whatever I can. I feel like it's my job now to try to raise awareness."

He's also at work in search of some semblance of normalcy. So are Heather's mother and father, Debra and Alan, who lost their only child.

"I needed a distraction from the pain and the frustration," Sean says. "It's good to think about baseball for a few hours instead of thinking about my problems."

But regaining their balance is hard to do, for so many reasons besides their still-raw grief. Cerda is still awaiting trial for intoxication manslaughter, a process that could take months. And the sports world keeps throwing bizarre, tragic incidents in their path to remind them of their loss, forcing Sean to grapple on air with some heavier issues than the sports-and-babes banter that takes up a good deal of the Ticket's airtime.

Three months after the crash, on a Saturday afternoon, Sean was on the air when the news broke that Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent had been arrested for intoxication manslaughter. Brent had been driving with his best friend and teammate Jerry Brown after a late night out at the club. As he headed west on a service road near Highway 114 in Irving, the car flipped and caught fire. Brent failed several field sobriety tests at the scene; his blood alcohol content was later found to be 0.189, more than double the legal limit. Brown died of blunt force injuries to the head and neck.

"That was a very tough day to broadcast," Sean says. A few days later, he went on the air with another Ticket personality — the rarely serious Gordon Keith — to talk about the Brent incident in light of his own accident. He talked first about Heather's parents.

"As much as I'm hurting, I understand my own pain," he said. "I can't even get my head around theirs. I just can't comprehend it."

"Just learn from this," he added, a few moments later. "If anybody's listening to this, learn from this crap. This can happen to you."

"I thought he handled it so well on-air," Keith says now. "Just wonderfully honest and earnest." But he acknowledges that the impact of the show might not be as long-lasting as they wish.

"I'm glad Sean came on the air and moved people with his loss and eloquence," he says. "I bet it prevented quite a bit of drinking and driving that weekend. But I'm not so sure if it did much to the next. I know from listener response that the deaths of Jerry and Heather struck a chord, but we know how quickly moral notes like that decay when the music starts pumping and drink specials are announced."

In fact, just last week, Cowboy Jay Ratliff — who as a fellow nose tackle spent countless hours in meeting rooms and practice groups with Brent over the last three years — was arrested for drunken driving. He crashed his pickup truck along the same stretch of road where Brown died.

Discussing drunken driving on the Ticket also comes with its own unique set of challenges. The station has a number of alcohol sponsors and alcohol-related events; in one five-minute segment, it's possible to hear a promo for their yearly TicketStock festival, sponsored by Bud Light and promising "fun with drunk P1s." That might be followed by a live read for Deep Eddy vodka, followed a minute or two later for an upcoming event called "Guys Night Out," brought to you by Belvedere Vodka and featuring convenient parking in the P1 parking garage. (The Ticket's ad sales department declined to provide a list of their alcohol sponsors.)

"Everything is driven by sales," Sean says, a little gingerly. "And we have a lot of beer and alcohol sponsors. So I have to walk a line there." Gordon Keith sees things differently: "Sponsors don't dictate what we talk about on the air," he says. "They just buy the space between discussions." Sean says, too, that some of the higher-ups at the Ticket have told him that they'd be willing to take part in future initiatives at the station around drunken-driving awareness.

After the crash, Sean says, he told Heather's parents, "I understand if you guys don't want to see me ever again." But they've continued getting together every so often, and Debra says she and Alan, a big Ticket fan, don't mind that Sean has discussed the accident publicly.

"I'm glad he's doing that," Debra says. "Maybe it helps him heal. Maybe it'll help someone think before they do it casually. Maybe they'll see it does happen to good people, you know? They're not immune to it. It can happen to anybody. Maybe it'll change somebody's mind."


Officer Hatfield got a call from dispatch about the accident when he was just a few minutes away, on First Street. As soon as Hatfield turned onto Centerville, though, he immediately got stuck in traffic, still backed up because of the accident. The dispatcher came onto the radio to say that the suspect had fled the scene. Moments later, the officer saw a shirtless guy in dark shorts running across the bridge.

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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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