OGDEN, Ill. (WCIA) — A couple used a tragic crash to create a big mission.
For years, Barb and Jim Esworthy have been advocates against drunk driving. Barb died Friday, but her husband Jim says their impact won’t.
They came face-to-face with drunk driving years ago. In seconds, they lost more than they could imagine.
But, from a great deal of physical and emotional pain, came a powerful message, an influential organization, and a whole lot of good.
22 years ago, Barb and Jim Esworthy were in a car with their two daughters. A drunk driver crashed into them. It took their daughters’ lives, and changed theirs forever.
“It started almost instantly,” said Jim.
As soon as they couple got out of the hospital, they formed an organization dedicated to drunk driving awareness, called Journey.
“My contribution to journey was not really very much,” said Jim. “About the only thing I had to do with journey was have the double J.” That stands for Jennifer and Jackie.
Esworthy wears their memory over his heart. Now he’s ready to remember his soulmate.
“We were kind of a package deal,” Jim said of he and his wife.
That’s how the law enforcement leaders they worked closely with, like former Champaign County sheriff Dan Walsh, always thought of them too.
“If I followed Jim or Barb, I couldn’t do it. I was just too choked up. That’s how well they conveyed to everybody the terrible tragedy that they went through, and that other people do when they suffer from drunk driving incidents,” said Walsh.
They raised money for squad car cameras for the U of I police department and Champaign County Sheriff’s Office. Officers showed us how those cameras capture undeniable evidence of drunk driving.
That’s exactly what the Esworthys hoped for.
“It’s been unbelievable that Journey is still alive and well, so to speak, 22 years and 16 weeks later. She did all that,” said Jim Esworthy.
Barb may be gone, but Jim says her mission will live on.
Barb Esworthy was 77 years old when she died Friday from a medical issue. Her visitation was Monday.