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.

"Stop him!" Hatfield heard someone shouting.

Hatfield jumped out of his cruiser and joined Golsby in his chase of Cerda. He, too, shouted for the man to stop. He took out his Taser, prepared to use it, then put it back in his holster and just tackled Cerda to the ground.

Even face down with his left arm pinned behind his back, Cerda still tried to get away, according to Hatfield's report. He tried several times to push off the ground with his right arm. Finally, Hatfield managed to shove his head down and handcuff him. He frisked him quickly and found a boxcutter. He put Cerda in the back of his cruiser, got him to verbally identify himself, and asked if he was injured. Cerda said no.

By the time Golsby got back to the scene of the accident, the ambulance had arrived and loaded Heather into the back. The EMTs asked Sean to sit up front. They were taken to Baylor University Medical Center. Because he wasn't a relative of Heather's, no one could tell Sean what was happening. Heather's parents quickly arrived at the hospital. They were whisked into a private room and given the news. Somewhere between the crash scene and the hospital, Heather had died.

After the crash, Heather's family and Sean learned that Cerda had a couple of previous misdemeanor charges for marijuana possession. He pleaded guilty to one, and the other is still open. He's from Mexico and is in the country illegally, and has been placed on an immigration hold. He won't be freed even if he could make his $100,000 bond. But Debra worries aloud that someone will make a mistake and allow him to be bonded out, paving the way for him to be deported without having to stand trial.

Even if he stays in jail, which is much more likely, the process of justice is frustratingly slow, she says: "If we go to trial before the end of the year it'll be a miracle. It's ridiculous."

They've been told that the maximum sentence Cerda can get is 20 years. He could be out in half that time, Debra says. "It could be two to five years, depending on his behavior and how crowded the jails are and stuff like that." Ultimately, she adds, "what he gets is not what he deserves. And it's not just us. It's other people in our position also. Just the legal system does not work in favor of the victims."

Debra and Alan run their own business; they haven't been able to take much time off to process or grieve since Heather died. "Honestly, I don't really know," Debra says when asked how they've coped. "We're just trying to get through it as best we can."

Recently, she's busied herself putting together a team to take part in a Mothers Against Drunk Driving fundraising walk, which is planned for April of this year. So far they've raised $3,000 of their $5,000 goal. Of that, more than $1,000 has come from Sean, much of it from Ticket fans who follow him on Twitter and know Heather's story. The team is called Heather's Angels.

Despite that bright spot, though, the past four months, filled with holidays, have been daunting for all of them. Heather's upcoming birthday represents yet another hurdle.

"I've been sort of lost," her friend Andy says. "Heather was my compass when she was still here." To make matters worse, he adds, "Somebody keeps stealing the cross from the accident site. It's pretty emotional for her parents. They keep putting a cross out and somebody in a truck keeps taking it." They don't know who it is, or why they would steal a memorial marker, he says. "We can't really do anything about it but put a new cross out."

Heather is buried out in Garland, in a little cemetery that her parents pass every day on their way to and from work. They recently put up her headstone, a slab of pink-tinted granite. On Christmas Day, Sean and her parents all went out to see it. As they stood there together, it started, very softly, to snow.

"She's everything that a parent could ask for, you know?" Debra says in a recent phone conversation. She pauses for a long time, collecting herself.

"She was a good kid," she adds finally. "She didn't get in any trouble. There aren't many of those around anymore."

She excuses herself politely and hangs up.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Officer Hatfield as "Jason." The Garland Police refuse to identify the officer's first name, which is not noted in police records.
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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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