Valiant Volunteer: Jeff Schaub

Jeff Schaub is a volunteer for MADD Maryland. He has encountered impaired driving in many ways including the death of his cousin and working as a law enforcement officer. Learn more about Jeff, in his own words, below.

I became aware of the problem of impaired driving, in 1986, when MADD held an assembly at my high school. I remember the dramatic reading of a poem (not “I went to a party, mom”). At the conclusion, you could have heard a pin drop. I did not know, at that time, that drunk driving would touch me in a far greater way, in just a few short years.

The date was April 29th, 1989. I had worked the night before and stayed up rather late. Not long after falling asleep, I was awakened by a sound coming from my mother that I had never heard. I responded to the area of the sound, which turned out to be our kitchen. Mom was crying. Dad was consoling her. I was uncomfortable. She looked at me and said, “Rick is dead.” Rick was my cousin. He was about 3 months my senior. Along with another cousin, Rick and I formed a kind of familial “Three Musketeers.” We spent vacations together, holidays together, and pushed each other to excellence in many aspects of life.

Rick and his sister, Kathy. Image courtesy of Jeff Schaub.

Rick was coming from a party in his rather new, and very cool, Mustang. He failed to negotiate an ever-so-slight curve in the roadway. His car rode up a slight embankment and overturned. He was partially ejected. Although conscious at the scene, initially, first responders knew the situation was grave. Police responded to his house and took my Aunt and Uncle to the hospital. He would never regain consciousness. He died just hours after the crash and not long after his parents arrived at the hospital. Ironically, his blood alcohol content, 0.07, was under all legal limits, at the time.

My decision to become a police officer is due, in no small part, to Rick’s death. Drunk driving quickly became my focus. My very first night “on the road,” I was changing into my uniform. My field training officer, whom I had never met, to this point. Greeted me in the locker room. It went something like this… “Hi, I’m Bryan. Get dressed. A drunk just crashed at the mall. We have to go lock them up.”

Just a few months later, I would bear witness to the raw violence of drunk driving. I was the first officer in a single-vehicle crash. An older Jeep was traveling too fast, lost control, rolled, and broke into three distinct pieces. Two passengers and the driver were thrown from the vehicle. The driver, who was later determined to be near twice the legal limit, was killed. Tragically, the driver’s best friend was right behind the Jeep when the crash occurred. He ran to his fallen friend, who was lying battered in the roadway, only to see the friend breathe his last breath.

I have committed my efforts as a police officer to DUI Enforcement. I have been assigned to the DUI Enforcement Team with Baltimore County Police for over seven years, now. I take no pleasure in arresting drunk drivers, that would be rather sadistic. What gives me satisfaction is the untold number of persons who will not be exposed to the impaired drivers that I am able to take from the roadways.

A photo of the author, Jeff Schaub. Image courtesy of Jeff.

1. What is your proudest moment as a MADD volunteer?

This is a somewhat tricky question. If I were to pick one moment, it would be the 2019 Legislative session when I was able to testify before members of both the (Maryland) Senate and House on the merits of toughening Maryland’s DUI laws. That, however, would be an incomplete answer. I realize how much my presence is valued at Victim Impact Panels. This is especially true when Bryna looks at me and says, “I’m glad you’re here.”

2. This work can be hard. What gets you out of bed in the morning to further our cause?

There is a great deal of overlap between my current work with the police department and my volunteer efforts with MADD. My motivation I would say is the victims. I do not consider those who have died to be the only victims, however. Obviously, those who have been injured and survived are victims, but family, friends, and loved ones are equally the victims.

3. How would you describe the work you do with MADD?

I avoid calling it “work,” first of all. Yes, there is effort and toil and sometimes sweat and all the other adjectives that are associated with work. However, when I began to volunteer with MADD it was an organic thing. I met some of the MADD staff at “Maryland Remembers…” and just wanted to do more with them. It is rewarding beyond measure. I enjoy everything: from victim impact panels to high school presentations to interacting with victims to just conversing with staff.

4. What is your favorite holiday and why?

Christmas! This was always a time when my family would get together and celebrate. I would always spend a great deal of time with Rick. There is still a “Rick-shaped” hole in my heart, there probably always will be. However, the memories of the great times far outweigh the sorrow of loss.

5. Pineapple on Pizza – Yay or Nay? What is your favorite pizza topping?

Oh! YAY, most definitely YAY!!! I realize that my Italian wife disagrees, but pineapple and ham on pizza are delicious!!!