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Deadly DUI; Interview with Family of Man Killed in Shocking DUI Accident
Aired December 3, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, an exclusive interview with the family of a man killed in a shocking DUI accident.
Ten days ago, Philip Moreno was mowed down, allegedly struck by a driver named Sherri Wilkins. According to authorities, she drove for two miles with the man embedded in her windshield. Police say she had twice the legal blood alcohol limit.
Wilkins is an addiction counselor who treats people who are trying to get sober and she now is charged with murder.
Let`s get started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: This is both an outrageous and a tragic story. It has a California town shaken. An addiction counselor in a treatment center has been accused of driving drunk and killing 31-year-old Philip Moreno. He`s going to be buried this Wednesday.
We`re grateful to have his sister Yolanda and brother-in-law Marco, are here to for an exclusive interview. Also joining us their two attorneys, Kevin Danesh and Sean Banafsheh.
Marco, thank you, gentlemen, for allowing us to talk to your clients. We do appreciate it very much.
Yolanda, you look stricken.
YOLANDA SALGADO, BROTHER KILLED BY ALLEGED DRUNK DRIVER: Yes.
PINSKY: It was your brother we`re talking about.
Y. SALGADO: Yes.
PINSKY: I`m going to have Marco tell the story first. Are you OK with that?
Y. SALGADO: Yes.
PINSKY: Marco, you were actually at the scene. Tell us what happened.
MARCO SALGADO, BROTHER-IN-LAW KILLED BY ALLEGED DRUNK DRIVER: Yes, I got dispatched about 1:30 in the morning to go out and basically do my job. I work for the city of Torrance and for traffic and lighting. So, whenever there`s an accident as big as this, they sent out to put cones especially when they`re doing investigations.
I went out to put out my cones as usual and let them do their investigation. But as I was standing there I noticed a shoe on the floor, and it was across the street from the bar and I figured, well, maybe I know somebody there. It`s so close to --
PINSKY: It looked familiar. The shoe looked familiar.
M. SALGADO: Yes, absolutely. And I started asking nor questions to the officer, like what happened and this and that. I said my brother-in- law goes to this bar a lot, you know? He likes to go to this bar. And he said well the person that got hit was 31 -- my brother-in-law`s 31.
And he just asked me for his name. Philip Moreno. And just told me, that was the person.
So, unfortunately, he told me I couldn`t make no phone calls. I kind of went into shock a little bit. I didn`t know what to do. He said don`t call nobody.
PINSKY: Were you close to the brother-in-law?
M. SALGADO: Oh, yes. Definitely. We used to go and have a few drinks in that bar also. So I basically just had to wait until they were done with their investigation. And then notify the family.
PINSKY: So then you went home and that`s when Yolanda found out?
M. SALGADO: Yes. I went and told my brother-in-law Daniel and then I went and had to tell my wife.
PINSKY: What was that like for you? You said you were in shock. Were you just numb?
M. SALGADO: Definitely numb.
PINSKY: You seem a little numb still now.
M. SALGADO: Yes. I still can`t believe it. I can`t believe it.
PINSKY: Yolanda, how about you?
Y. SALGADO: I can`t believe it. This is like a really bad nightmare.
PINKSY: There`s even a weirder twist in this, isn`t there? Sherri, the person that -- who is an addiction counselor who relapsed obviously, drunk drove with your brother on the windshield for two miles? She was just that out of it that she drove with somebody lying on her car hood?
M. SALGADO: I would guess.
PINSKY: Yolanda, she is actually someone you had spoken to before.
Y. SALGADO: Yes. I mean, I went to one of the family nights when he was being treated --
M. SALGADO: Me. She`s my counselor.
PINSKY: She`s your addiction counselor?
M. SALGADO: Yes.
Y. SALGADO: Yes.
PINSKY: So you`re an alcoholic.
M. SALGADO: Yes.
PINSKY: And you were in treatment. How many days sober you have now?
M. SALGADO: Forty-three.
And this must have challenged that tremendously. I mean, we`ll get into that later. That`s just for you, just shattering no doubt.
I`m sure there`s a lot of legal issues involved. I see you guys straighten up as soon as this issue of a caretaker endangering the well being of another one of their clients quite literally. You had spoken to this woman before.
Y. SALGADO: Me? Yes. I actually went to a family night because she said it`s good to, you know, support. And I was -- I wanted to support him, so I went. We spent, actually, three hours together doing like a exercise on how I can open up with him and, you know, share with him why if I`m angry, you know, how it`s effected our marriage.
PINSKY: So she did a couples session with you two.
Y. SALGADO: Yes.
PINSKY: So what happened when you found out this was who killed your brother?
Y. SALGADO: Oh, my God.
So, after my husband broke the news at home, we went to my dad`s house and then we all went to the hospital. Then after the hospital we went to the Torrance P.D. to see what, you know, what`s going on. You know, who was it? Or if they can give us any information.
And they were really good with us. And I don`t know how many minutes into it, but they let us know who was involved. And he just -- because I knew her name was Sherri, but I didn`t know her last name. So when they told him the name, it was like -- he looked at me and I`m like, no, no, no. Because I knew her as Sherri. When they said Sherri Wilkins, I -- he was - -
PINSKY: He Marco?
Y. SALGADO: Yes. Marco was --
PINSKY: Went ballistic.
Y. SALGADO: He just couldn`t believe it. He couldn`t believe it.
PINSKY: What are you feeling now?
Y. SALGADO: I`m so -- I`m so angry. I`m so angry, because all this time she was trying to help Marco and who knows what she was doing. I`m so angry.
PINSKY: So you questioned everything she did. You don`t think it was just that one night that she relapsed. Marco, you don`t think so?
Y. SALGADO: Oh, I don`t think so. I mean, I think she had her own little demons. She had a -- you know, she -- when I went there, she had a cup. I mean, who knows what it was. To me she never looked right.
I just -- I always questioned how she was. You know, she called me a few times to make sure, you know, I would go to the family night, you know, to support Marco and you know --
PINSKY: Tell us about your brother. Who is the man she has robbed us?
Y. SALGADO: Such -- Philip was so -- he was those type of people where everybody loved him. Everybody wanted to be around him. He knew everybody. He was a well-liked man, real loving person.
PINSKY: Did he have kids?
Y. SALGADO: No. He didn`t have any kids.
PINSKY: Do you guys have kids?
Y. SALGADO: Yes.
PINSKY: Did he have a relationship with them?
Y. SALGADO: Oh, yes. He had a close relationship with my sons.
PINSKY: How are your kids dealing with this?
Y. SALGADO: They`re sad. I mean, they`re taking it a little hard. They were close to him. You know, he loved video games.
My sons were into sports. They loved sports. Philip was a big, big Raider fan, big Laker fan. Loved Kobe Bryant.
I mean, he was -- he had a really good bond with them. And she took it.
PINSKY: She stole all this from you.
I appreciate you being here today.
Y. SALGADO: We`re all -- we`re just --
PINSKY: I`m going to take a little break. OK? We`re going to keep talking about this. You all right?
Y. SALGADO: Yes.
PINSKY: OK. So what we`re going to do now is eventually I`m going to actually bring another alcoholic who was involved in a drunk driving, killed two people. She`s having to live with that to this day.
We`re going to go to break. I want you to watch this tape of a witness at the scene of this fatal crash.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She didn`t have to turn down Crenshaw and go miles down the road where there`s no police department, no fire department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: We are talking about outrageous and tragic case of a 31-year- old man who was hit by an alleged drunk driver and then killed, driven two miles down the road. This was a chemical dependency counselor at an addiction treatment facility.
Joining me now is Anna David. She`s executive director of thefix.com, she herself a recovering addict.
Anna, let`s talk about how shocking it is or is not to hear that an addiction counselor relapsed and was involved in such a horrific accident.
ANNA DAVID, EXEC. EDITOR, TEHFIX.COM: It`s a horrible, horrible story. And Yolanda and Marco, I`m so, so sorry. It`s -- anecdotally I would say you do not hear of addiction counselors relapsing all that often. The accident in itself is so tragic that that is more shocking. But a great many sober people work as addiction counselors, statistics say it`s about 50 percent of the people that work there, and relapse is a part of the disease.
There does seem to be a denial a bit in the community where we say relapse is part of the disease, people relapse. But then we have these expectations that people who work in recovery aren`t actually addicts in the same way civilians are.
I remember when Jeff VanVonderen from "Intervention" relapsed, people were shocked.
But it does happen and it is a tragedy. I think it`s more of a tragedy when an addiction counselor relapses.
PINSKY: OK. Let`s -- Anna, let`s shine a little light on this. I mean, you could walk out here and relapse right now. I mean, that`s how cunning your disease is, right?
PINSKY: It could happen right now.
DAVID: Anybody could.
PINSKY: But let`s talk about -- are you likely to get in a car and drive if you relapse?
DAVID: Well, I think if your relapse, you are not in control necessarily of your decisions anymore. You are still responsible for them, but anything could happen.
PINSKY: So let me go to the attorneys. Gentlemen, how do we prevent that? Somebody relapses -- do you think there was more going on here where she was so out of it she didn`t know what was going on? Or was she trying to get away from the scene? How do we make sense of this and prevent this.
KEVIN DANESH, PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY FOR MORENO FAMILY: Go ahead.
SEAN BANAFSHEH, PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY FOR MORENO FAMILY: Go ahead.
DANESH: Absolutely there`s some extenuating factors. She`s a repeat offender with past criminal history. She`s demonstrated a propensity to have this exact thing happen. She got into a hit and run accident --
PINSKY: In the past?
DANESH: In the past. Just two years ago.
PINSKY: Oh, two years ago?
PINSKY: While intoxicated?
DANESH: Allegedly, she was intoxicated, but because it was a hit and run, by the time they were able to do the testing, they couldn`t make a determination.
PINSKY: Was she working as an addiction counselor back then?
DANESH: No. She started the job about a year later.
PINSKY: Year after a hit and run?
PINSKY: Anything you want to ad to this?
BANAFSHEH: You know better than anyone that 90 percent of people in their first four years of treatment, they relapse at least once.
PINSKY: Well, we used to have a rule of thumb we didn`t want to hire anybody unless they were sober five years. That was sort of a rule of thumb we use for this very reason. So, I`m a little surprised to hear that somebody -- maybe the legal system kept that all hidden from the hiring professionals. You know, sometimes, people were able to hide stuff in employment application.
BANAFSHEH: With that being said, this is -- you know this. You`ve dedicated your life to this. This is a disease.
BANAFSHEH: And when people get drunk it`s not how you and I have a drink, they`re really getting drunk. And, you know, yes, of course they`re going to get behind a wheel. They`re not thinking. You know, they`re relapsing.
And it`s what can we do to prevent this and a lot of people might not like me saying this, but I think every single car should have a breathalyzer in there.
PINSKY: Every car in the country.
BANAFSHEH: Every car in the country -- and I will back up why I`m saying this. We, you know, spent -- I think the U.S. spends over $100 billion in alcohol-related accidents. And this is not that expensive.
PINSKY: So, for a billion, we could save $99 billion maybe.
BANAFSHEH: You know, it costs -- more than 10,000 people are dying a year. And this is fixable.
PINSKY: Let`s take a call -- quick call. Dawn in North Carolina. Dawn?
DAWN, CALLER FROM NORTH CAROLINA: Hi, Dr. Drew. My condolences to the family.
PINSKY: It`s just so tragic. This is such -- so many twists to the sorry. Go ahead, please, Dawn.
I am an alcoholic in recovery. I`ll have two years in February.
DAWN: And I have had a DWI. And I believe it`s normal to expect a higher standard for the addiction counselor, but also think it`s unrealistic. Everyone is subject to relapse or a slip. If we see it in society and other places, a preacher has an affair with somebody in a congregation, a politician --
PINSKY: But there`s interesting territory, dawn. Relapse, fine. But once people relapse and engage in behaviors that are destructive, do we let the ax fall at that point.
I mean, Marco, you could relapse today too, I mean, certainly with all you`re going through, my God. And what if you lose track at things and get behind a wheel and do something yourself. I mean, do you have any empathy for what happened at this woman, given that you share the condition?
M. SALGADO: Yes, I --
Y. SALGADO: Tell him what she told you --
PINSKY: Tell us.
M. SALGADO: Well, she always said if she ever took another drink because she knew she had a bad past, but if she took another drink she would either end up in prison or kill someone.
PINSKY: Well, she`s right on both counts.
M. SALGADO: Yes, absolutely. So my feelings are pretty confused right now. I`m also a little by angry, a lot angry.
PINSKY: Let me ask you. Are you going to stay sober?
M. SALGADO: Yes. It`s where my heart is.
PINSKY: So for you -- if for nothing more than out of respect for your brother-in-law, that`s what`s important to you, right?
M. SALGADO: Yes.
PINSKY: And hopefully for yourself?
M. SALGADO: Yes, absolutely.
PINSKY: Now, still to come, I`ve got an addiction counselor who appears to have relapsed and then -- well, no. I beg your pardon. What we`re discussing is an addiction counselor who apparently relapsed and killed allegedly Philip Moreno 10 days ago. So we`re going to talk to a recovering addict who admits herself she killed two people in a DUI accident.
Be right back.
PINSKY: I am back with Yolanda Salgado and her husband Marco. Yolanda`s brother Philip was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver. Sherri Wilkins -- she was in charge of Marco`s case and Marco`s counselor at a drug and alcohol treatment center.
And, Yolanda, you just told me something during the break which I found just -- this whole case is so wild. She`s a drug counselor. She`s your husband`s drug counselor and she kills your brother. She drives two miles with him on the windshield. And you say there`s evidence now she was actually trying to dislodge him?
Y. SALGADO: There are witnesses that show -- that say she was trying to swerve so that she can --
PINSKY: Get him off the hood?
Y. SALGADO: Yes.
PINSKY: Doesn`t that make you sick?
Y. SALGADO: Oh, God.
PINSKY: Now, we can`t confirm nor deny those allegations here at CNN, but just the thought -- at HLN, I beg your pardon -- but just the thought of that, Yolanda.
Y. SALGADO: Yes. Because even if she would have stopped, you know, because the way his -- they couldn`t repair him. You know, she was driving two miles on Crenshaw and who knows what she was doing while he was stuck in her windshield? He could have been saved.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was actually nude.
Y. SALGADO: He --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She hit him so hard that she knocked his pants off and he was dislodge in her front -- he was lodged in her windshield and there`s allegedly there`s people saying she was trying to swerve left and right to get him off of the windshield.
PINSKY: It`s just disgusting. Of course we cannot confirm or deny this at HLN.
We did receive a statement from Twin Tower Treatment Center where Sherri Wilkins is employed as a drug and alcohol counselor.
Here it is: "Our hearts go out to the victim`s family. What we do for a living does not protect us against replace. Unfortunately this is not a unique incident. The disease doesn`t stop when you stop. The consequences of relapse in long term sobriety are disastrous.
Sherri was a caring professional. This isn`t about being bad, this is about being sick."
Anna David, you`re a recovering addict. How do you get people to understand that? And I understand I still have trouble thinking that way, because this is bad stuff, what`s happened here. The disease makes people do bad things. That`s for sure.
DAVID: It does. And, you know, there`s a lot of talk about oh, they`re addicts. They have a disease.
And people think that means -- that we in recovery mean they`re not responsible for what they do. But they are.
It is a disease. But I think when we`re talking about a situation like this where it`s somebody who has a history of hit and run, we`re not talking about the disease anymore.
PINSKY: Right. So hit and run is not something characteristic of addiction.
PINSKY: It is something that this individual was prone to in her disease. I don`t know how strongly I can say this to people out there that might be listening. A lot of people are touched by addiction. I know everyone out there knows someone or lives with someone or has this themselves.
But for God`s sake, please take care of this thing before you hurt yourself or someone else.
This woman, Marco, told you clearly she would kill someone or be in j jail. And here now, we`ve got both.
M. SALGADO: Yes. It`s sickening like you said. It is. It`s -- we can`t seem to comprehend. But just taking it a day at a time.
PINSKY: Can I drill in on you a little bit?
M. SALGADO: Sure.
PINSKY: Are you able to take it a day at a time? Are you going to meetings? Are you working with a counselor?
M. SALGADO: Yes.
PINSKY: Are you finding somebody new you can trust? Are you still finding -- you`re just now not trust anybody?
M. SALGADO: No, I actually, I`m still going to meetings. I went to a meeting last Monday after the accident. With my fists rolled up. I just -
I had a hard time going up the stairs and walking in that room. I didn`t say anything in the beginning because I was so upset, I just thought I was going to lose it. But I just have to understand that I can`t bring nothing back. And not to sound greedy or anything, but right now the most important thing is my sobriety.
PINSKY: That`s not greedy. That`s respect for your brother-in-law`s --
M. SALGADO: And I`m glad I am sober because I`m there for my wife and my family.
PINSKY: There you go. She needs you.
OK, next up, a recovery addict who admits she killed two people while using. Stay with us.
PINSKY: Audrey Conn is a co-author of "Face to Face". And she was founder of an organization that helped people try to manage alcohol consumption. And she ended up herself engaged in an accident that took two lives.
Also joining us is Raphael Javid, another -- did I pronounce that right?
RAPHAEL JAVID, ATTORNEY: Javid.
PINSKY: Javid, another attorney for Philip Moreno`s family.
Audrey, what happened with you and how do we make sense of these things when they happen?
AUDREY CONN, KILLED TWO PEOPLE IN DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT: This is absolutely tragic, and as you know I can`t hardly believe it myself what happened today, getting this call to be on this show. I unfortunately can relate to Sherri Wilkins, because I did the same thing. I drove over a hundred miles in a complete blackout and killed two people. A little girl Michelle Davis, only age 12, and her dad Danny Davis, 44 in the prime of his life.
It took over three hours to extricate their bodies, and from that day on my life has never been the same. I will live with the guilt of that for the rest of my life. I hope anybody listening to the show, and I want to commend Marco and Yolanda for talking about this so soon after this has happened in your lives. People need to get help.
People that are addicted need to get help now as soon as they can before something like this happens to them, because when this kind of situation happens, you live with it. The family lives with it, both sides forever. This is a never-ending, horrible -- just a terrible situation. I can`t imagine anything more tragic.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Yolanda, do you have any questions for her?
YOLANDA SALGADO: SALGADO, BROTHER KILLED BY ALLEGED DRUNK DRIVER: How could you go out knowing that you`re drunk and drive a car?
CONN: When you`re in a -- when you`re in a complete blackout, you don`t intentionally decide to go out that day and purposely kill somebody. But I do -- I take total responsibility for the result of what I did. I have never driven a car since and I now talk across the nation to victims` impact panels.
People who have received DUIs and are court ordered to listen to me talk. And I want to tell those young people that if they continue to use their drug of choice, they will eventually end up killing somebody. And their lives end up like mine. And they will never, ever, ever -- they`ll forever live with the guilt.
PINSKY: And you were in prison for awhile? Is that correct?
CONN: I spent three years in prison. That`s all they could give me. Today, to kill two people in the state of Oregon, you receive 20 years day for day. And I make sure that those young people know that. Twenty years is gone forever. Now, they want -- the victim`s family wanted me to receive life. And in a way I did.
I suffer from -- every single day, I will never forget what happened. And I will always -- my purpose is life today is to talk to young people and to other people that are addicts, young or old, all of us, and especially people that are in the helping field like I was, that you take care of yourself.
You may be trying to help other people, but if you`re not with your own priorities intact, addiction is kind of baffling as they say in AA. And at any time, you can be tempted and go out there and use.
PINSKY: Audrey, two points I want to make about what you`re saying. One is, DUIs are not limited to just alcoholics and addicts, by the way. You can abuse alcohol, and what, kill somebody very easily as well. And two, yes if people are in the helping field, it`s very common.
We`re going to talk later in the show about what how they get depleted and why they go out in the circumstances, what kinds of things happen in treatment facilities. But let`s talk to the attorneys for a second about Sherri. She`s already had two strikes, is that right?
KEVIN DANESH, PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY FOR MORENO FAMILY: She`s been convicted not once but twice.
PINSKY: So, this is strike three now.
PINSKY: So, she`s in big trouble. Audrey`s story is not what`s going to happen to Sherri, is that correct?
RAFAEL JAVID, PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY FOR MORENO FAMILY: Well, the tragic thing about this entire story is the fact that this is not a unique story. I mean, obviously, just by listening to Audrey right now, this is something that happens over and over again. And you have to look at not just the sensational part of it about the fact that this woman dragged a body for two miles.
But, you know, the events that led up to it and how can we prevent it. And when we talk about that, you have to talk about oversight. You have to talk about, you know, either breathalyzers in the car or you have to talk about drug testing even for counselors. Obviously, this is not a unique situation.
PINSKY: Well, I want to bring in Attorney Lisa Bloom. She`s legal analyst with Avo.com. And then, as I`ve said,. I`ve also got -- you just heard from Marco`s third attorney, Rafael. Lisa, what about the three strikes law and how might this apply to Sherri Wilkins (ph)?
LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY: Well, she very likely will be getting her third strike and probably going away for the rest of her life. And I want to second the motion about breathalyzers. Breathalyzers are tremendously important in stopping addicts from driving a car. You simply can`t start it if you breath into it and you`re under the influence. And the technology is terrific today.
PINSKY: Hang on, Lisa. Hang on -- it is -- I agree with you. But look at what addicts do these days to avoid urine toxicology, for instance. Now, we have bath salts and spice. People will give themselves seizures to avoid drug testing. Imagine what they`ll do to get around these breathalyzers. People will be taking benzos and driving.
BLOOM: Well, let me tell you something. First of all, the perfect should not be the enemy of the good. It may not stop 100 percent of DUIs, but there`s no question that breathalyzers stop a lot of them. There`s a camera in the corner of the car that takes a picture of the person who breathes into the breathalyzer so you can`t have somebody else do it.
There`s random retest which means as you`re driving along three minutes, 10 minutes later, you have to breathe in to it again. And there`s no question that the states that have them does a very significant reduction in DUIs. California has it only in four counties. It should be statewide. First offenders have to get it for five months. It should be 12 months or more.
A lot of lives are saved by these products. And I agree that, eventually, as the technology gets better and it gets cheaper, it should be in every car. Nobody should be able to start a car under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
PINSKY: From the control room, is there a statement I need to read here from one of the attorneys that in there somewhere. There we go. We called Sherri Wilkins`s (ph) attorneys, and they had a comment. We did not hear back from them at the time of this taping. So, we don`t what their plans are, but -- what do we do, Yolanda?
YOLANDA SALGADO: SALGADO: I don`t know.
PINSKY: You pick up, you move on, you support your husband in recovery.
YOLANDA SALGADO: SALGADO: Yes. I always will. I`ll always support him, but, I mean --
PINSKY: I`m going to ask you a tough question. I hope you don`t mind. He`s got the same disease that killed your brother.
YOLANDA SALGADO: SALGADO: Yes.
PINSKY: Do you resent him for that?
YOLANDA SALGADO: SALGADO: No. No. I don`t.
PINSKY: Can you see the distinction between Marco the person and Marco the alcoholic?
YOLANDA SALGADO: SALGADO: Yes.
YOLANDA SALGADO: SALGADO: I can already see the difference.
PINSKY: In recovery.
YOLANDA SALGADO: SALGADO: In recovery.
PINSKY: Anna David, close me out on this. Help people understand that piece. Even I have trouble with it when horrible things like that happen.
ANNA DAVID, DRUG AND ALCOHOL COUNSELOR: Well, addiction is a disease. And I think that addiction counselors are at higher risk than other people, because it is incredibly difficult to do something for a living and not believe you`re an expert on it. And you know, humility is something all addicts and all human beings struggle with.
PINSKY: Yes. You`re right. You`re right. I`m going to interrupt you and just say we`re going to talk about that very issue about what goes on in treatment centers that you need to think about and how people who work there need to take care of themselves so horrible things like this do not happen. We`ll be right back.
PINSKY: Joining us now Howard Samuels, founder and CEO of the Hills Treatment Center. Howard, you`re a well put together man now sitting in front of us, but you have a story to tell about your addicted past. How bad did it get?
HOWARD SAMUELS, FOUNDER & CEO, HILLS TREATMENT CENTER: Oh, it was horrific. I started shooting heroin at 16, arrested the first time at 17.
PINSKY: For possession or?
SAMUEL: For possession. Convicted felon at 19 --
PINSKY: What did you do?
SAMUEL: -- for heroin and cocaine.
PINSKY: Trafficking or?
SAMUEL: I was going to traffic. OK?
PINSKY: Preparing to traffic.
SAMUEL: Yes, preparing to traffic. And, judge gave me a choice of four years in prison or a year in rehab. I went to rehab. Learned how to deal with feelings and a behavioral change, came out. And I must say, I relapsed after a couple years, slowly made my way back to cocaine, shooting heroin.
PINSKY: Were you in the treatment profession at that point?
SAMUEL: No, I was not, you know?
SAMUEL: I was finding myself, but the drugs and alcohol were my drug of choice. And I finally got sober at 32. My family intervened. I went to a long-term treatment center. I was there for two years in treatment. I became a counselor for them for Phoenix House of New York which is, you know, the world`s largest treatment center, non-profit.
Worked for them for two years. And, then, I started to get into the treatment business 20 years ago.
PINSKY: So, across those 20 years, you must have seen story not unlike what we hear with Sherri?
SAMUEL: Oh, absolutely. I mean, would say this is right up there as far as the most tragic.
PINSKY: Extreme, yes.
SAMUEL: Extreme. I mean, just so sad.
SAMUEL: You know, but unfortunately, you know, when you work with addicts, whether they`re treatment professionals or whether or not they work at IBM, relapse, unfortunately, is a part of the treatment process.
PINSKY: Is there a way people can safeguard themselves against being exposed to this if they`re working with somebody in the recovery field not having to go through what Marco`s going through?
SAMUEL: Well, absolutely. I mean, you know, at the Hills Treatment Center, we UA people. We test people.
PINSKY: The counselors?
SAMUEL: The counselors. Oh, I get tested.
PINSKY: Right. And that`s what these guys have been calling for is that counselors be tested.
SAMUEL: I`m 28 years clean and sober.
PINSKY: And you get tested.
SAMUEL: And I get tested.
PINSKY: So, that`s a great point. This could happen to you. You could walk out of here and you know --
PINSKY: And if you just have that testing, that`d be a piece of the structure that you needed taken away.
PINSKY: All right. Interesting. Let`s go to Andrew in Colorado -- Andrew.
ANDREW, COLORADO: Yes. A little over five years (INAUDIBLE)
PINSKY: Eli, I can`t hear Andrew. We have to move on. How about the breathalyzer proposition? Do you think it`s --
SAMUEL: Well, you know, I love breathalyzing every American in the country. I wish it was a possibility, but it isn`t going to happen.
SAMUEL: OK? So, why even talk about it, you know? I do think that, you know, the education is probably the most, you know, important. Alcoholism and drug addiction is so widespread in this county that it`s out of control.
PINSKY: It is out of control. I think we`ve sort of missing the fact that it`s the medical problem of our time.
PINSKY: It really is everywhere. Lisa, I think you would disagree with Howard, though, on it being something that`s not likely.
BLOOM: Well, you`d be surprised how good the technology is and how many states are now requiring first time offenders to have it for 12 months and how effective it is. And so, as we all continue to use it as first time offenders and second time offenders are order to use it and the RND continues, it is foreseeable. Most people in the industry feel that it is foreseeable.
That eventually, maybe ten years out, that it will be standard in new cars that you will have to blow into a breathalyzer or it will even measure by ambient air if you have alcohol or drugs in your system. That`s how advanced it can be.
PINSKY: I like that. Lisa, you`re not always the most understanding when people misbehave. What do you make of Sherri`s situation? You know, even I who sometimes have to treat people like Sherri and understand the empathy for somebody that`s been through what she`s suffered here, let`s say. What do you say?
BLOOM: Well, you know, of course, I`m sympathetic to anybody who has a disease, but we all do make choices as adults to get behind the wheel of a car, for example. And if you`re somebody who has a past where you`ve had hit and runs, where you`ve committed crimes under the influence of alcohol, or you`re a drug and rehab counselor and you understand these issues profoundly, probably a lot better than I do, why are you still driving at all?
Why do you still have a car? I mean, we already heard somebody in the show say that he just doesn`t drive at all or he didn`t drive, you know? So, we all make choices in our lives. And the law is going to hold her responsible for those choices.
PINSKY: Lisa, the irony is, it was your brother, Yolanda, that didn`t drive. That`s the horrible irony here.
YOLANDA SALGADO: SALGADO: Yes.
PINSKY: he was walking when this happened.
YOLANDA SALGADO: SALGADO: Everywhere. Yes.
PINSKY: Lisa, do you have any comments for Yolanda? Anything you want to reach out to with her?
BLOOM: Well, I mean, my heart goes out to you. What a heartbreak. You know, I just want to hug you. There are no words. We have so far to go in this country to prevent drunk driving accidents to prevent people from getting behind the wheel of a car.
I have all the sympathy in the world for an addict and everything they go through, but when they get behind the wheel of a car we know what happens. This is what happens and it`s completely unacceptable.
PINSKY: Howard, do you agree?
SAMUEL: Totally agree. Totally agree with Lisa. if You`re going to act out in such a horrific manner, you need to take responsibility. And if prison, you go to prison. I mean, this woman who was on your show who killed two people, horrific.
SAMUEL: I mean, she`s tortured for the rest of her life. But she had to pay the price by going to prison. I`ve had a lot of clients who have killed people in exactly this kind of situation, and they`ve all gone to jail. And believe me, that`s helped them with their own guilt.
PINSKY: More on this tragic case when we return.
PINSKY: We`re continuing our conversation about this tragic case. I want to go out to some calls. Melissa in New York -- Melissa.
MELISSA, NEW YORK: Hi. I am just so angry. And I apologize if I offend anyone. I think this is more than to do with addiction. I think people overestimate people. And I think people don`t let people have natural consequences. And I actually agree with Lisa, which I usually don`t.
But it shouldn`t be -- you know, like, it seems like people are afraid. Like, these are people`s lives.
MELISSA: I don`t understand why people give them the benefit of the doubt. You want to make sense of it? There is no sense. There is no sense.
PINSKY: Melissa, you sound like this may have affected you personally. Is there a story in your life?
MELISSA: You know, I`ve been affected by alcohol but not in this way. I`ve been abused my whole life and I was just saying to someone about my 96-year-old mother the other day crying that she still doesn`t get it. So, it isn`t unique to this. It`s like why don`t people -- why don`t people step in or is everyone that blind?
PINSKY: Well, Audrey -- Let me go to Audrey who wishes somebody had stepped in. Audrey, you want to address that?
CONN: I wish that anybody that knows that they have a problem with drinking would seek help before it`s too late. I started driving drunk before this happened. And I should have sought help then. Unfortunately, I was put up on this pedestal again as a counselor as founding moderation management and found (ph) I couldn`t tell the truth and I lied.
And I should have been honest with the group and honest with people, and this maybe never would have happened. And that`s why I`m reaching out to people right now that are in the same situation that aren`t reaching out. They know they have the problem. Maybe they feel embarrassed or ashamed about it. But step out and tell people that you have the problem and get help for it.
PINSKY: But Audrey, I`m going to say -- Howard, this is the conundrum in addiction. How do you deal with the reluctant, the recalcitrant, the unwilling to capitulate? That`s the conundrum in this disease.
SAMUEL: Right. And the work is knowing the danger signs before the individual relapses. That`s why in all the treatment communities, you have to see the danger signs and intervene. That`s what we try to do at our treatment center. And I`m afraid a lot of places don`t.
PINSKY: But let`s talk about the recalcitrant. What Audrey`s talking about is that nobody --
PINSKY: That`s right. So, what do we do with that recalcitrant feature? What`s our advice to people out there to try to break through? People are starting to looking for direction.
SAMUEL: I believe people have to be very assertive in the interventions that need to get somebody under control with their disease.
PINSKY: Marco, did somebody intervene on you? What got through to you finally? Did you scare yourself?
MARCO SALGADO, BROTHER-IN-LAW KILLED BY ALLEGED DRUNK DRIVER: I went with basically fear, tired of myself, and I knew that sooner or later something like this might happen to me.
PINSKY: Did you have a brush with something?
MARCO SALGADO: No. It`s just looked in the mirror and didn`t like what I saw. I didn`t like my wife suffering and my kids. I`m not paying attention to my kids and my family, basically.
PINSKY: Yolanda, really, the person that`s suffered most here is you. You`re the one -- and the people we`ve spoken to today. I mean, you`re the one that this disease has taken somebody very dear from you. It`s almost taken your husband. It`s taken somebody from your children. What do you want people to know?
YOLANDA SALGADO: SALGADO: Don`t drink and drive.
PINSKY: Bottom line.
YOLANDA SALGADO: SALGADO: Bottom line. Don`t drink and drive. She dragged my brother through the street like a dog, you know, and this did not have to happen.
MARCO SALGADO: I think we have -- like, you probably would agree. When we feel like this, the triggers are coming or we always have our tools. And that`s what I`ve been learning. I`ve been sober only 40- something days, but I`ve learned the emotions to speak with her more. I just had a friend call me on Friday that he wanted to drink and he wanted to talk to me. Like, fine, let`s do it, you know? Eat something, take a shower, watch a movie, have some crackers, something, cookies and milk, whatever.
Get your mind off of this. He called me the next day to thank me. So, it`s just knowing what to do. It`s the obstacles that are there. You know, the exercise we put six chairs and in the first chair there was a drink. There were so many chairs you had to go through to get your drink. So, a lot of tools that are out there to do.
PINSKY: You bet you. Let me take a quick call from Mike in Florida. Mike, go ahead.
MIKE, FLORIDA: Yes, hi, Dr. Drew. Marco, Yolanda, I just want to say I`m very sorry what you had to go through. I was a victim myself of a drunk driver back in 2001. I was at a red light. I was the only car there and I got hit by somebody rear ended by 45 miles an hour, threw me into the middle of the intersection.
And basically, I`ve had a lot of bad experiences since then. It`s been a really hard road. It`s so much anger --
PINSKY: What`d you do -- I got to take a break quick, my friend. But what do you do with the anger? What does Yolanda do with the rage?
MIKE: With the rage, you can try to seek therapy as much as possible. But I still deal with it today. I try my best. I will never forget it. I remember the impact. I`ll never forget the whole moment. I guess, because I survived from it. But it still does affect me today. I`ll never forget every moment of detail.
And it`s just -- it`s just a burden that you try to forgive and you try to forget, but it`s really difficult. You just can never -- you just go day by day. And it`s been for me almost 12 years, actually.
PINSKY: I got to take a break. Thank you for sharing that story. Yolanda, thank you so much for sharing yours as well. We`ve got to take a quick break. We`ll be right back.
PINSKY: I want to thank all of my guests today. I don`t have time to speak to each of you individually, but thank you so much for appearing today on the program. Lisa, of course, thank you. And a reminder, a memorial fund has been set up for Phillip Moreno at BH. That`s Boy Hero, BHAttorneys.com. Marco, you want to make a quick comment?
MARCO SALGADO: Yes. I just wanted to say if there are, you know, people out there who are trying to seek help with their alcoholism or their addiction, don`t be ashamed. Go out there and do it. I promise you you`ll feel a lot better.
PINSKY: You`ll feel better and it`ll be one less person to be engaged in something horrible like this. Yolanda, thank you for coming here (INAUDIBLE) being a part of this. I really appreciate it.
YOLANDA SALGADO: Thank you.
PINSKY: I want to thank you guys for watching, and of course for calling. We`ll see you next time. Nancy Grace starts right now.