A Vow4Mal supporter wears his anti-drinking and driving shirt

Paul Wellman

A Vow4Mal supporter wears his anti-drinking and driving shirt

Group Fights Drunk Driving in Memory of Mallory Dies

After Generating Cash and Momentum, Vow4Mal Looks to Change Attitude and Behavior

Monday, March 10, 2014
Article Tools
Print friendly
E-mail story
Tip Us Off
iPod friendly
Share Article

Matt Dies has good and bad days. Valentine’s Day was especially hard, he said. But rather than let the pain paralyze him, he does his best to keep moving, to stay active and productive and do things that would make his daughter proud. “What else can I do?” he asked.

Mallory passed away on December 11, five days after she was hit by a drunk driver who left her lying in the middle of the road surrounded by panicked friends. She was 27. At her memorial service, Matt remembered the UCSB graduate and downtown bartender as whip-smart and big-hearted, toughened up by two brothers but warm toward everyone from the barbacks to the bosses.

Vow4Mal supporters gather at the county courthouse
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Vow4Mal supporters gather at the county courthouse

Matt vowed then, as he does now, to give meaning to the seeming senselessness of his daughter’s death. To that end, he and a number of Mallory’s friends have formed the Vow4Mal group with a strong but simple message: Don’t drink and drive. “We want to affect this community,” Matt said. “Obviously we’re not the first group to try and make a dent, but our tactic is a little different.” Rather than try and change policy, Matt went on, they’re employing “more feet on the street” methods to “change attitude and behavior.”

Matt said the group has received much-appreciated guidance from the Santa Barbara Foundation as they enter unfamiliar waters of fundraising and outreach. They’re in the process of partnering with other drug and alcohol treatment and prevention programs, UCSB’s Greek organizations, the SBPD, and so on. “When Santa Barbara gets together, anything is possible,” said Ryan Todey, one of Mallory’s close friends.

Mallory's father, Matt Dies
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Mallory’s father, Matt Dies

For practical purposes, Todey said, the group first threw its energy into making money, generating more than $40,000 during a memorial golf tournament in January. They also held a silent auction at Blush that similarly brought in thousands. Sponsoring and organizing various events since, they’re working out of a donated office space on the Eastside and are about to launch a website with free hosting for two years. Todey, who worked at Tonic Nightclub with Mallory, said he’s now engaged in Vow4Mal-related duties full-time.

“The key is providing safe alternatives to getting people home,” Todey said, noting the area’s vibrant nightlife and calling Santa Barbara a “hospitality-driven town.” Todey said people have the right to go out and have a good time, but it’s his and Matt’s wish to get them home safe. They’d like to pair with transportation companies and create a voucher system, he said, and establish a ring of volunteers to get people back to their cars in the morning. “Not wanting to leave your car overnight is the most common excuse to drive drunk,” Todey declared.

Mallory Dies
Click to enlarge photo


Mallory Dies

Matt agreed. “Most people drink and drive just to avoid the inconvenience,” he said. “The mentality is, ‘I’ll go and risk lives because I don’t want to be inconvenienced.’ We want to change that thinking.” Matt said the group would like to keep a relatively low profile at first — “We want to under-promise and over-deliver,” he stated — before spreading their mentality-changing vision once they prove it works. Todey also suggested distributing surveys in County Jail to those arrested for DUI to determine why they got behind the wheel in the first place.

“This is the best way to honor Mallory,” Matt said of Vow4Mal’s overarching mission. “I think she would be extremely proud.” Anytime they make a decision, she’s on their mind, he said. “We always ask ourselves, ‘Would she like that?’” Todey said that because Mallory was always supportive of the LGBT community, the group has decided to hold an event at Wildcat Lounge on April 6.

For more information about that event and others, visit the Vow4mal Facebook page and the Mallory Rae Support Page.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

i can't imagine how difficult it must be for Matt to have had the light of his life extinguished by the selfish behavior of mr. moura. RIP Mal, we won't forget you.

StockiestCastle (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2014 at 3:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The reality is that the blame for deaths, tragedy's, and broken hearts, is any person who has ever drank and drove convicted or not. This isn't still pointing the finger at Mr. Moura. Downtown is filthy at night with completely idiotic young and old people being completely out of there mind and this is only caused because Santa Barbara has the most alcohol beverage permits for a city under 100,00. Any person can kill while behind the wheel. Enjoy your life everyday just realize that alcohol is a poison and can kill you easily both directly and indirectly.

waterboy174 (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2014 at 8:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Truth, waterboy174.

ahem (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2014 at 9:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The name of the alleged drunken driver is Raymond Morua.

Moonrunner (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2014 at 11:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I found out long ago after identifying a Deceased Classmate and Co-worker who had been drinking and driving and laid on the Stainless steal table in the Morgue in two separate pieces that if you HAVE to have Alcohol or a Hit or Toke of any drug to be social around others, YOU are already addicted to that Drink, Hit or Toke.
For the Wine Tasters (Wino's) this site dictates proper Wine Tasting Technique;

dou4now (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2014 at 5:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Why don't they live sober lives in her memory? Wasn't Mallory a bartender? So I wonder how many drunk drivers she contributed to? Let's be honest people, if you really care, you'll make a worthwhile impact;not just make shirts and hold hands.

Letsbhonestwitheachother (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2014 at 2:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Did anyone look at the picture of Mallory before posting? Could they not find any other picture of her where she is not boozing it up? C'mon people, use your heads.

Letsbhonestwitheachother (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2014 at 2:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

OK, I will be honest, it seems everything in our culture--at least locally--revolves around the consumption of alcohol, and the denial of the problem of drinking and driving.

The bars, the alcohol industry, the "wine tasting" crowd, the yes, The Independent--who hosted a party Morua attended the same night he killed Dies, have the same line of denial, which is "drink responsibly". "Drink responsibly" is just a way of of saying "I know you're drinking and driving, YOU know you're drinking and driving, and everyone here knows drinking and driving is at the core of this get-together, but let's pretend we're not complicit in this".

Mallory Rae Dies was a daughter, a friend, and a loved one, and yes, it is insulting to her memory to define her by showing pictures of her engaging in the activity that indirectly killed her, and certainly none of us are in a position to judge her, or anyone else. Having said that, let's not let her death be in vain, and let's get to the root of the problem, which is that the alcohol industry knowingly encourages people to drink and drive--even if they ostensibly discourage it.

Look at the ads on this website: Alcohol ads. Not that The Independent in any way is the only one doing this, but they are part of the problem. Would one run ads for heroin, cocaine, or cigarettes?

The ONLY way to move forward in a positive way is to acknowledge that drinking and driving is just that--and nothing more. As the above poster points out, holding hands and making shirts alone does not solve the problem, but looking inward and seeing society's collective guilt in the mindset that lead to her death will solve the problem.

Do you REALLY care about Mallory Rae Dies or is this just another way of rationalizing the world that contributed to her death?


billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2014 at 3:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Alcohol doesn't need to be advertised to be popular, specific brands of alcohol need to be advertised so that they, individually, can be more popular.

Some things just don't need advertising. Alcohol can get your adrenaline and endorphins going so you can be more social, up-beat and have more fun. All you have to do is go downtown and walk by places where a lot of alcohol is being served and you will see that people are very active, talkative, laughing and generally having a good time. That doesn't mean there isn't some dark sides to drinking. Some people get angry when they drink sometimes, some get depressed. Most people act less responsibly. But acting responsibly isn't always very fun or exciting. If you want to see a bunch of sober people, go to church or an AA meeting *ZZZZZZZZ* I'm getting sleepy just thinking about it.

The fact is alcohol zests up social events and a lot of people live for social events so drinking alcohol will never go away. Once in a while somebody will die tragically as a result of alcohol. Once in a while somebody will die tragically from participating in water sports. Once in a while a car or road malfunction will cause a tragic car accident. That doesn't mean that we need to stop participating in water sports or driving cars.. it means we need to do our best to assess the risks vs. the rewards of engaging in various activities and limit the amount of danger according to our own decisions and hope for the best.

Personally, when I'm drunk downtown, I try to be very careful to look both ways before crossing the street. I know people are driving drunk and so I take the necessary precautions. But I've also risked it and stumbled home blacked out drunk, I have no idea if I was being careful enough to avoid a would-be drunk driver not following traffic signals. But I chose to take the risk.

I applaud this group for getting the word out that driving drunk can be dangerous, because in fact it can be. I applaud them for thinking of new innovative ways to decrease the amount of drunk driving through groups and mechanisms that will help people get home safely. I prefer not to drink and drive at all, although occasionally I will have a drink or two, wait some extended period of time and drive home VERY CAREFULLY obeying all traffic laws, focusing first and foremost on driving and paying attention to my surroundings like pedestrians. What I would prefer NOT to focus on is where are all the cops who want to pull me over and harass me when I am well under the legal limit and following all traffic laws. That is one reason why I am glad that this group is not solely focused on more legislation.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2014 at 5:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Top Ten Things that don't need to be advertised to be popular:

10. intoxicants
9. water
8. oxygen
7. vision
6. hearing
5. taste
4. touch
3. kittens
2. scapegoats
1. sex

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2014 at 5:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Please read the post by Loonpt, it's that kind of rational that leads to these tragedies in the first place. I bet he's probably a Mallory supporter, owns a Mallory shirt and was out drinking after each "Remember Mallory" event.

Letsbhonestwitheachother (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2014 at 8:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Loon... alcohol impairs rational thought....

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2014 at 9:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I hope Raymond Morua is not a mere scapegoat.

Sure, he's guilty, but misplaced rage against him makes him a sacrificial lamb so that the rest of us can self-perceive as innocent.

ahem (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2014 at 10:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Excellent point Ahem.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2014 at 2:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Morua will burn for this, no doubt about it. It's the easy thing to do. These people don't want real impact or change, they're just looking for someone to punish and blame. It's easier to make Morua the villain in this scenario, since Mallory supporters don't want to stop going to the bars on state street or give up drinking their booze. What would Mallory wish for Mr. Morua?

Letsbhonestwitheachother (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2014 at 3:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Letsbhonestwitheachother: If these people have any clue as to what is going on, they know on some level that there is a connection between their drunken lifestyle, and how Mallory got killed, and they are trying to make themselves look good while avoiding the real issue. Also, where is all that money going to go?

We don't need to "raise awareness", people need to stop drinking and driving, but since their lifestyle has been about self-indulgence, and actually stopping drinking and driving would be inconvenient, it's easier to give the appearance of actually caring about her.

To those who can truthfully say that this tragedy has made them seen the error of their ways, and that they pledge to not only never drink and drive, but that they will educate others as to these dangers, I say "more power to you". Anything else is just an attempt to mask the real issue.

Alcohol addiction and vested financial interests are powerful things however.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2014 at 3:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I guess none of you have gone out and had a really fun night of drinking. That's fine, not everybody enjoys it. I'm not an alcoholic by any stretch of the imagination, but I do recognize the fact that many people have more fun going out and drinking than not and there is no amount of shoving a single tragedy in their face that is going to stop them from doing it. That doesn't mean you can't affect their drinking habits or their transportation habits in a positive way or help them realize that drinking heavily won't guarantee a good time and can lead to tragedy.

Yes, alcohol can make people less rational, but there is nothing irrational about humans making decisions based on risk vs. reward. Who wants to live to be 120 years old if you were living in a bubble with automatic food service and no human contact? Probably nobody. Yet we have people who are advocating that everyone else stop doing an activity that can be very pleasurable and can bring enjoyment, meaning and new friends into their life. It doesn't guarantee all of those things, and there are darker sides to drinking for some people, but that doesn't mean the answer is everybody stop drinking. It just means people need to be aware of both sides and decide for themselves how alcohol fits into their life, if at all, exercise caution for themselves and especially others.

When you talk about Mallory's death and how the alcohol industry created this tragedy, you need to think more like an economist. Compared to what? What if the alcohol industry didn't exist, what would these people be out doing instead? Do you think they would all be home praying with their families waiting to go to church on Sunday? So the question is, what tragedies would we see if everybody was doing something else besides drinking? What substances would they be taking? What activities would they be involved in? Assuming these are younger people who generally engage in risky behavior, we can assume that they will still be involved in tragedies on occasion. In fact, there could be more tragedies. Maybe instead of drinking and having fun, younger people would start gangs and go roving the streets and commit crimes. Who knows?

So you can't take a tragedy and blame it on something and tell everybody to stop doing it if you don't know what would be occurring if that activity didn't exist. Maybe it would be worse? But
if you think that alcohol is an especially dangerous compared to other popular substances, then hey, I'm actually in strong agreement with you. I would legalize all substances so that people can choose to use safer substances recreationally if they wish.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2014 at 3:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well Loon, I think of Steven Tylers' quote: "Sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, get rid of the drugs, and you have more time for the other two!"

Alcohol is a drug, contrary to what the alcohol industry tells us, you can be social and have a great time without it.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2014 at 9:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

event calendar sponsored by: