ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – One Odessa mother is using the loss of her son to promote awareness on the dangers of drunk driving. Janie Villanueva said her son was killed in a drunk driving crash almost six years ago.

Janie said her son, Miguel Saenz, was her miracle baby who she loved with every piece of her- a love that was reciprocated.

“He’d come in and just say, ‘Mom, can I tell you something?’ And I’d be, ‘yeah’ and he was like, ‘I love you mom.’ I was like ‘okay, what do you need? What do you want? Or what did you do?'” laughed Villanueva. “And he’s like, ‘No! Nothing, I just wanted to tell you that I love you.’ And I was like ‘Oh! I love you too.'”

He was only 19 years-old. His mom said he left home that night to pick up his younger sister.

Miguel never made it home after he was hit head on by a drunk driver on FM 1788, and died at the scene.

Villanueva said she was frantic that night saying, “My daughter calls me around 11:30 and she’s like, ‘Mom, Miguel won’t answer. He’s not answering me and I’m still waiting for him to come pick me up.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, let me see if I can get a hold of him.'”

Unfortunately, Villanueva and her family weren’t able to contact Miguel as people he knew came to their house to inform them of the crash.

“‘We need to let y’all know, Miguel was in a car accident.’ And I was like ‘Oh my God, is he okay?! Where’s he at?! What’s going on?!'” added Villanueva.

Since his death, she’s made it her mission to warn others not to get behind the wheel while under the influence.

“It’s important because, as a mother, I want to make sure that everybody gets home safe,” said Villanueva.

While she said she uses this push to keep herself busy, it is sometimes too much to bear.

“I think I overwork myself, sometimes, with work, school, doing what I do, sharing the awareness. Just keeps me so so busy that I think sometimes it’s overwhelming,” she teared up. “My husband tries to keep it together himself, not only for him, but for us too.”

Most of the family has had a hard time even getting behind the wheel since Miguel’s death, especially his sister.

“Three years, more than likely, 3.5 years to get behind the wheel. She did not want to drive. She was scared, she got anxiety real bad. To this day, she hardly goes out.”

But Villanueva said, it was important for her to be strong in that aspect.

“There were days, that I did [get scared to drive], but because I wanted to make sure that I was strong and I didn’t show my daughter that fear, that she already has, I wanted to make sure that she understood that it is okay to be out there, because, you’ve got to get away from that fear,” she emphasized. “You cannot let that fear get to you because that’s what’s going to end up finishing you.”

Today would have been his 25th birthday.

“This pain, that I hold on [to], day by day, I don’t wish that on anybody and I wouldn’t want anybody to go through that,” cried Villanueva.

Janie said, the night his life was taken, was the worst night of her life. And reliving it hasn’t gotten any easier.

“My husband said, ‘Was there alcohol involved?’ and the officer said, ‘Yes, there was. But sorry to let you know that your son didn’t make it.'” she paused. “I guess I lost it, I don’t know, I fainted and they said that I hit the ground hard! They ended up having to call an ambulance. I blacked out, I didn’t know what else was going on.”

Since that dreadful night, Villanueva made it a point to push for change and has been a part of programs across the Basin, making others more aware drunk driving.

“This is really really, 100% preventable. I hope that we can continue doing what we do, to help not only us and our hearts, our emotions our feelings, but also to help others,” she urged.

She said she has been lucky to find a new family and group of supporters through such a tragedy, all who look to do the same thing.

“It feels heartbreaking for one point, because they go through what I go through. But at the same time, I know there’s somebody out there that will understand me. That will understand my pain, my hurt and understand the fight that I go through to make sure that every body is well.”

She said, she needs to keep her mind busy but said it’s also important to keep fighting for her loved one and those who are suffering the same loss.

Villanueva shook her head and said, “You’re not only going to be hurting yourself, but you’re also going to be hurting other families and loved ones. There’s consequences on stuff like that, and getting behind the wheel drunk is not worth it, it’s not worth it.”

Villanueva added that she goes to see her son at the cemetery every day and emphasized no parent or child should have to feel her pain.

“He knows that I love him and I miss him. Every day that I go to see him, because I go to the cemetery every morning to see him, I always sit there and I give him a kiss and I tell him that I love him.”

She and others continue to hold events to tell their loved ones stories and hope that helps save lives.

The next event is April 29th at the Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. See the flyer below for more information.