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Driven Beauty

Miss Central Virginia says drunken driving has hit close to home.

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Werner wasn’t there alone. Her close friend Katherine was next to her, also unconscious. The two were out celebrating Werner’s placing third runner-up in the Miss Richmond Pageant only hours before, where she spoke eloquently about the dangers of drinking and driving.

It’s an issue close to her heart. Werner’s father was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2001 while driving under the influence.

Werner believes, her father came between her and death.

“My father was between me and my windshield,” she says. “Police told my mother that I was lucky to be alive. I honestly believe my father was there with us.”

Werner suffered a broken collarbone and hand, four fractured ribs, a fractured pelvis and a collapsed lung. She spent a week at VCU’s MCV Hospitals. Doctors said she would be in a wheelchair for the next six weeks. Werner had other ideas.

Instead of licking her wounds, Werner went to work. She did physical therapy to gain enough strength to compete in the Miss Central Virginia Pageant — just four weeks after her release from the hospital — though her ribs stuck out a bit on her left side during the swimsuit competition and she had a slight limp. “It was easier for me to walk in heels than with bare feet,” she says. Werner won and got the chance to compete in the Miss Virginia Pageant June 28, a precursor to the Miss America pageant.

It seemed like a fairytale ending after a horrific event. Yet Werner is still angry. The court date for her accident is still pending. The man charged with T-boning her car is charged with a hit and run, driving under the influence and failure to submit to a breath test. Instead of stewing in anticipation for her day in court, Werner has decided to raise awareness about irresponsible drinking and driving.

“My way of getting through this is to tell my story. Obviously, God has a master plan for me,” she says.

This summer, Werner is going to travel to Fairfield, Conn., to be a camp counselor at a special summer program sponsored by MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She has done many events and talks similar to this, yet now her message is much more powerful because it comes out of her personal experience.

And what about Miss Virginia? At the pageant in Roanoke June 28, Werner did not place in the top 10. But that isn’t stopping her, she says. “I’m just using [pageants] for my voice to be heard.” S

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