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Drunk driver spurs student to action

At the start of 2006, Nicole Martingano was an undergraduate student at the University of Florida in Gainesville, but her life changed dramatically on Feb. 25 of that year when she was hit head-on by a drunk driver.

Martingano was in a coma for 11 days and suffered from left-side paralysis. Doctors put a steel plate in her arm and a titanium rod in her leg. She had problems with her long- and short-term memory, and struggled with putting words together. Martingano was hospitalized for three months and had to undergo a year of occupational, speech and physical therapy to fully recover.

“How it affected my family was the hardest part of dealing with the accident,” said Martingano. “They went through more pain than I did. Physical pain is nothing compared to emotional pain.”

When she was lying in the hospital bed in Gainesville, Martingano made a decision to deter drunk driving by speaking to her peers and by one day becoming a prosecutor.

Since the accident, Martingano has turned her near-fatal injuries into a public awareness campaign by speaking to thousands of students at colleges and high schools about the consequences of drunk driving.

Nicole Martingano aspires to work as a prosecutor in the Tampa Bay area.

At Stetson Law, Martingano is honing her advocacy skills as a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Board, and she has recently become a Student Ambassador at Stetson. Next spring, Martingano plans to participate in Stetson’s Prosecution Clinic. Upon graduation, she aspires to work as a prosecutor in the Tampa Bay area where DUI conviction rates are the highest in the state.

“As an advocate, my goal is to be a prosecutor, and I’m determined to deter crimes like the one I was a victim of,” said Martingano. For more information on Martingano’s life-changing experience, visit her website at How to Save A Life.

You can read more about Martingano’s inspiring story, written by Valeria Obi, third-year Stetson Law student, in SU magazine online. (The magazine is scheduled to mail next week.)