Nhu Huong died Sunday after suffering from critical injuries in the deadly New Year’s Eve crash.
Huong, a former foreign exchange student from Vietnam, spent her senior year of high school in Oklahoma with Amanda “Mandy” Starkey-Carson and her family, according to a GoFundMe page. Huong was back in Oklahoma to visit her host family for the holidays when the crash happened.
Starkey-Carson was pronounced dead the night of the crash while her nine-year-old Bella and Huong were taken to OU Medical Center in critical condition. Starkey-Carson’s four-year-old Brinley was also taken to the hospital, but was treated and released.
Bella was moved out of ICU after four days, but Huong remained in critical condition in the two weeks since the crash.
Huong reportedly went into an emergency surgery Jan. 6 to “make efforts to further improve her recovery,” according to a Facebook post from Starkey-Carson’s husband Cory.
Huong’s family had some difficulties getting a visa to come to the U.S. to visit her, according to posts on the Mandy’s Law Facebook page, but had seen her through video calls until they were able to get here.
Huong’s parents were able to get here to see their daughter before deciding to take her off life support.
Services hosted in Oklahoma for Huong were yesterday.
The fatal crash involved a car and Starkey-Carson’s SUV. The driver of the car Craig Maker, 30, of Edmond, sustained a leg injury and was taken to OU Medical Center. He was treated and released from the hospital before being arrested and booked into the Canadian County Jail for driving under the influence (DUI).
A trooper clocked Maker going 116 miles per hour on the Kilpatrick Turnpike right before the crash. He then rear-ended Starkey-Carson’s SUV. Troopers said Maker also didn’t have his headlights on.
Maker said he drank two glasses of whiskey before the collision.
Maker has four prior DUI convictions—three misdemeanors and one felony.
Kyle Schwab with The Oklahoman reported Monday that Maker was charged Wednesday in Canadian County District Court with second-degree murder and three offenses related to driving under the influence of alcohol. He is expected to be charged with an additional murder count because of Huong’s death.
Tiffany Jaques-Brown, Starkey-Carson’s friend of more than 20 years, started a GoFundMe page for Starkey-Carson and her daughters.
“Our beautiful friend and devoted mother was tragically killed on New Years Eve by a drunk driver. She loved her girls more than anything in this world. Those girls are going to need our help as they recover medically as well. Please consider donating anything you can including prayers. We love you Mandy,” the GoFundMe story reads.
The page had raised $29,540 of a $30,000 goal as of Monday evening.
To donate to the GoFundMe, visit www.gofundme.com/memorial-for-mandy-starkeycarson.
There are two GoFundMe accounts, the one started by Jaques-Brown and one started by a friend of Starkey-Carson from out of state. Jaques-Brown said they ask that people donate to the one she started because it’s local.
There is also a GoFundMe account for Nhu, which can still help pay for any leftover medical bills.
The page had raised $25,245 of its $30,000 goal as of Monday evening.
There is also a meal train set up for Cory and the girls by Jaques-Brown and a Lipsense benefit set up through Facebook in honor Starkey-Carson, in which 100 percent of the profits from the sales go into her GoFundMe account.
Yukon businesses are also hosting “Dine Out For Mandy” next week.
More information on Dine Out For Mandy will be in Saturday’s Yukon Review.
Another effort is through the use of social media and the community’s voice to bring about change.
The Facebook group “Mandy’s Law” started to bring awareness to DUI laws and hopefully bring about change to some legislature, Jaques-Brown said.
Afton Shaw, a leader on the page, has been speaking with State Representative Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, and other legislatures to speak with them about making stricter DUI laws that could save people from these situations.
“Cracking down on repeat drunk drivers is of critical importance to me as it is to the public at large,” read a press release from Sanders. “I authored legislation last year that I know will make a significant difference in prosecuting repeat drunk drivers. With the recent news of this terrible tragedy, I will be taking an even closer look at what we can do in state statue to stop this plague on our state.”
The legislation Sanders authored is House Bill 3146, which created the Impaired Driving Elimination Act (IDEA) and moves all DUI cases from municipal non-courts of record to a court of record, ensuring the district attorneys have access to a driver’s records.
The problem in this case is the driver of the vehicle that police say caused the crash was previously prosecuted in courts of record. It’s unknown how many, if any, DUIs he had in non-courts of record, according to the press release.
Sanders said it is because of cases like this that he wrote his original law.
“Every time you have someone with multiple driving under the influence charges, you have the potential for loss of life,” Sanders said. “Yet, the clear fact remains that we must do even more to protect lives. Public safety is severely put at risk by cases like these.”
Sanders said he will pursue meeting again with district attorneys this year to ask what further changes may be required in statute to further protect the public and to prosecute repeat offenders appropriately.
“I’m not giving up on this,” Sanders said. “As my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Ms. Carson, my resolve strengthens to ensure her death is not in vain.”