Mom starts campaign against drink-driving – If Janine’s death saves a life, I’ll have done it


It was only three words. The call in the early morning of January 5th. “Janine is dead.”

Martina Nierhoff (56) from Wuppertal talks about her daughter († 22), who died in the disaster in Luttach (South Tyrol): A drunk man killed seven young German ski vacationers.

The mother sits in the garden, looks up at the sky and says: “If I can only save one person, then we have done it.” Her goal: to ostracize drunk drivers with a campaign. “I want other people’s attention. The ones who watch soberly when someone gets behind the wheel while drunk. ”

Shakily, she clutched a steel flamingo – the logo of the “Don’t drink and drive – go pink for live” campaign.


Janine Benecke († 22)

Janine Benecke († 22)Photo: private

Martina Nierhoff came up with the idea in the hospital bed. “My breast cancer was diagnosed in late December. In the week in which Janine died, I had to be hospitalized with chemo, ”she says. “I had Janine’s plush flamingo with me. He gave me closeness. “

At the age of 17 Janine suffered from lymph gland cancer, but took off after successful treatment. Two years in Australia, then studying mechanical engineering at the University of Bochum.

On the night of January 5th Janine was with friends on the way back to the hotel in Luttach. The group had ended the ski day in the “Hexenkessel” disco. The bus driver let the young people out at a bus stop, they just had to cross the zebra crossing in front of their hostel. Stefan L. (27) raced up with his Audi TT with two per thousand in his blood. After the crash, the police found no skid marks.


After the crash, the Audi TT came to a halt on a wall

After the crash, the Audi TT came to a halt on a wallPhoto: Carabinieri Bolzano

“The morning after, I was still in twilight sleep when the phone rang,” Martina Nierhoff remembers. It’s Frank, Janine’s father. “He just said: Janine is dead.”

She calls her condition since that moment “surviving”. Means: not dead, but not alive either. Just surviving. “I know that I have to deal with that. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it. “

She meets irregularly with other members of the Luttach tragedy. And knows: “Everyone deals with their pain differently. Some are in the valley of tears from morning to evening, others are angry. “


He is waiting for his trial: Stefan L. raced drunk into young ski tourists, 7 people died

He is waiting for his trial: Stefan L. raced drunk into young ski tourists, 7 people diedPhoto: private

She herself wants to fight. “One day, when I was kneeling at my daughter’s grave, I had all strength, almost lost faith in life. Then I heard Janine’s voice from the grave: ‘Mom, giving up is not an option.’ “

Martina Nierhoff was in South Tyrol that summer. At the point where Janine died: “I wanted to see for myself on site.”


Mother starts campaign against drink-driving: If Janine's death saves a life, I'll have done it

When the trial against Stefan L. should begin is unclear. For Martina Nierhoff this is difficult to understand: it all takes a long time. But I want to look into the future. We already have 80 ambassadors – people who go to restaurants and bars and advertise our campaign. ”This support gives her new strength.

The mother: “This is my life’s work now. And Janine and all the other victims from Luttach are always there. “

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