- Alex Otte has grown from a severely injured 13-year-old girl to become an inspirational lady and leader.
- Her positive-minded survival story shares her grief with every family that has ever lost someone to an impaired driver.
- Bottom line: Boating under the influence = Driving under the influence. She wants to spread that message.
By David Gray
Alex Otte, a young girl, shares what happened to her. “On July 2, 2010, I was run over by a drunk driver. My offender wasn’t driving a car; he was driving a 17-foot bass boat at more than 70 miles per hour. I was sitting across the narrow lake from my mom and brother, and the boat was headed toward them when he banked it to the left and never straightened up. The boat hit me, going more than 60 miles per hour and threw me off the Jet Ski. I landed face down in the water, and the boat landed on top of my body before it sunk. I sustained severe, life-threatening, and lifelong injuries from head to toe, including a severe traumatic brain injury. I was classified with shaken-baby syndrome, having a shattered jaw, broken neck, broken collarbone, lacerated liver, and bilateral shattered femurs. I incurred the loss of my right leg below the knee.”
On July 2, 2010, medics lifted Alex into a Life-Flight helicopter. They told her parents that their 13-year-old beautiful young daughter might not live long enough to make it to the hospital. But Alex did make it to the hospital, remaining in a coma for seven days.
Alex remembers waking up in the hospital with her Dad sitting by the bed. “Dad would tell me what happened and that she had suffered severe brain injuries.” When she woke up the next time and the next time, her Dad was still sitting by her bed. He had to tell Alex again and again what had happened. Each time she could not remember. Her injured brain could not recall what her Dad had repeated each time Alex woke up.
At 13 years of age, Alex Otte shared time with her creator and doctors for the next seven weeks in the hospital. The young girl was strong and determined. The following fall, she returned to school but would not walk into the classroom this time. She was in a wheelchair.
On July 2, 2010, the woman that little girl would be, was nearly gone. But the little girl survived to quickly become a strong, articulate, well-focused personality and inspirational leader.
Alex has become the woman she wants to be and has risen to be the President of MADD. She is devoted to education about a choice you or someone in your family makes when they get ready to operate a boat.
Boating is recreational. Boating is fun. Safe Boating involves a choice, just like a choice to safely drive a vehicle.
Boating under the Influence is as dangerous and life-threatening as driving a car Under the Influence.
In her speech, Alex states, “Operating a boat while impaired from alcohol or drugs does not result in unintended accidents while enjoying a recreational activity. Operating a boat while impaired often results in an incident and a deadly crash, causing injuries and death because of a person’s irresponsible choice.” Operating a boat while impaired is a choice, just like driving a vehicle.
Drinking and boat driving create the same dangers to others as drinking and driving an automobile.
A study of the relationship between the risk of fatality and blood alcohol concentration of recreational boat operators by Peter Mengert, E. Donald Sussman and Robert DiSario (1992) found that with a 0.1 BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) you are more likely to die in a boat crash than a car crash. Fishermen know that being out on the water in the sun, wind and waves will cause fatigue. Combine on-the-water fatigue with alcohol in your system, and you are more likely to cause a severe crash. Statistics show that you are more likely to NOT SURVIVE a boat crash with a 0.1 Blood Alcohol Content, even as a passenger.
On May 26, 2022, Alex Otte delivered a strong message as President of MADD. Alex traveled to Lake of the Ozarks, in the middle of Missouri, in the middle of the country to announce and launch the nationwide BUI = DUI boating campaign. Boating under the influence = Driving under the influence.
Starting at Lake of the Ozarks in the middle of the country, Alex will spread her message in all directions.
The message is simple. Do not operate a boat impaired. Alex does not want anyone in your family to operate a boat while impaired and run over a person causing another family to endure what her family had to endure.
People impaired by alcohol or drugs can cause death and lifelong severe injuries to others.
We asked Ms. Otte, “If you could sit down one-on-one with a person who would NOT drink before driving their car but might also believe that having a couple of drinks before driving a boat is OK – what would you say to them?”
Alex said, “Everyone needs to understand that drinking is irresponsible if you are driving anything, and bad choices can be hazardous to others and themselves. It is not OK to drink and operate a boat, just like it is not OK to drink and drive a car.”
Things happen fast on the water. While Boating is fun, it can be dangerous to you, your family, and others if you operate under the influence.”