The power of product placement: One Dr. helping out an aspiring Dr.

Posted: January 19, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Hey I like Dr. Pepper too!

Obviously I hope none of you ever get hurt. But if you do, don’t forget the product placement.

In one of the funnest stories I’ve written in a long time — no, I actually don’t get a ton of pleasure in writing about rape, murder and DWI all the time — I found out Tuesday morning some pretty cool news from Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola Bottling Co. here in Santa Fe.

Those two companies are putting together a fund to help Vanessa Carrillo, the 19-year-old EMT injured critically last month when a drunken, wrong-way driver on I-25 ran into the ambulance she was driving, with a college fund all because of her love of Dr. Pepper.

So here’s what happened…

Certified EMT Vanessa Carrillo, 19, of La Cienega. (Courtesy photo)

As many local readers may recall, Carrillo, an EMT with Rocky Mountain EMS, was driving an ambulance back from Albuquerque at 2:24 a.m. on northbound I-25 on Dec. 14 after transporting a patient from Santa Fe to Albuquerque. A 2007 Nissan Altima heading south on the northbound lanes of I-25 at speeds of well over 100 mph, according to police, driving by 26-year-old Kylene Holmes of El Paso barreled into Carrillo’s ambulance, killing Holmes and critically injuring Carrillo.

Carrillo was placed under a medically induced coma and when she woke up the next day, the first think she asked for …

“First thing she said was she asked one of the nurses if she could have a Dr. Pepper,” said Desiree Carrillo, Vanessa’s 21-year-old sister. “That was all she really wanted when she woke up. And later, she was telling us not to worry about her. I don’t think she liked seeing all of us so worried. That’s how she is.” — Dec. 16 edition of The New Mexican

So a couple weeks later, in an interview from her La Cienega home about her recovery after the crash, a wheelchair bound Carrillo told me she got around 200 Dr. Peppers from friends and other fellow first responders who would come visit her in the hospital and had read about her favorite drink in the newspaper (Sweet! somebody is actually reading us!).

I told Vanessa that was probably more Dr. Pepper than anyone could really even want and then came the comment that was music to the ears of soda marketing execs everywhere…

“It’s OK. You can never have too much Dr. Pepper.” — Jan. 1 edition of The New Mexican

So upon reading that, Stuart Feltman, VP of Sales at Coca-Cola Bottling Co. in Santa Fe, sent the article to the big bosses at Dr. Pepper. Both were “inspired” by Vanessa’s approach to the long road of recovery ahead of her and, long story short, they’re setting up a fund to help her return to UNM next fall where she one day wants to attend medical school and become a doctor.

While details still need to be finalized during a meeting with the Carrillo family today, Feltman confirmed that 50 cents of every case of Dr Pepper sold during the next month — “at least a month, maybe longer I hope,” said Feltman — at the Santa Fe Walmart store and area Quick Stop convenience stores will be put into a fund to help Carrillo with college expenses.

The Hart family, longtime owners of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. in Santa Fe, will pay 25 cents, and that will be matched by Dr Pepper, Feltman said.— From Jan. 19 edition of The New Mexican

Obviously Vanessa had no idea upon waking up from her coma her Dr. Pepper request would turn into this, but then again she had no idea her life would forever change that Dec. 14 morning on the last part of her shift that night, either.

Good for Coca-Cola Bottling in Santa Fe and good for Dr. Pepper for chipping in and helping out the family of a young woman who, like Feltman says in the article, “was doing everything right — she knew she wanted to be a doctor, she was an EMT, she was going to school to follow her dream — and then because of something that was absolutely no fault of her own, all this happened to her.”

Vanessa said physical therapy is progressing and on Feb. 3 doctors will for the first time start letting her attempt to put weight on her legs for the first time. Very cool!

And see that? Even the crime reporter can find a happy story every now and then.

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