'I’m living proof of what happens to people who make poor choices'

Sarah Panzau Evans warns Burke Catholic students about the life-altering danger of drinking and driving


Make text smaller Make text larger



Photos



  • Sarah Panzau Evans with Burke Catholic High School students (Photo provided)




  • Sarah Panzau Evans with Burke Catholic High School students (Photo provided)




— Sarah Panzau Evans, a motivational speaker who survived a drunk driving accident that changed her body and her life, spoke to a crowd of 400 students in the John S. Burke Catholic High School gymnasium on Oct. 25.

Her future was bright until one life-altering day. She was an award-winning collegiate athlete with a full scholarship to play for the Southwestern Illinois College volleyball team. She won conference Freshman of the Year honors, was named to seven all-tournament teams, and was a two-time member of the National Junior College Athletic Association woman's volleyball All-American team. But, on Aug. 23, 2003, everything changed.

She was 21 years old the day she left a party and made the irrevocable decision to get into her car and drive home. With a blood-alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit, Evans totaled her car. The accident left her with a severed arm, all but five damaged vertebra, and a jaw broken in seven places. She was given a zero percent chance of surviving her injuries. Evans spent two and half months in a hospital and has undergone more than 30 surgeries since the accident.

Evans is using her second chance at life to educate others on the dangers of drunk driving.

“If these kids want to make that one poor choice of drinking underage, I plead with them not to make the second poor choice to get behind the wheel,” she said. “I think just by looking at me and hearing my story, they will know that I’m living proof of what happens to people who make poor choices.”

Burke Catholic students were moved by Evan’s story.

“This was, by far, the best assembly I’ve ever attended,” said Holden Lee, a junior. “Her story was sad, but ultimately, it was very inspirational because she is leading a successful life and has overcome the tragedy of her drunk driving accident.”

Evans shared photos of the wreckage, and the guilt she still carries to this day, especially for the pain and fear she caused her family. On the night of her accident, Evans' mother was visited by two police officers who asked her to identify a young woman involved in a fatal accident.

“The students found Sarah’s story very impactful because she is young and was an athlete and spoke to them in an honest, direct way,” said John Douthit, Burke Catholic Principal of Operations. “It’s so important that we provide our students with assemblies like this one because it’s critical for them to understand that one bad choice can have grave consequences.”  

Burke Catholic High School partnered with Dana Distributors partnered to present the program.



Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments

Pool Rules



MUST READ NEWS

College Admissions Expert Elizabeth Levine: Early Decision vs. Regular Decision – Risk vs. Reward
Will applying early decision help my chances to get into my school of choice? Watch this weeks Tuesday Talks with Liz and learn about the risk vs. the reward and how the...
Read more »
Image

Cooling centers to open during heat wave
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for Friday and Saturday. The forecast is for high heat and humidity, with temperatures reaching the upper 90s...
Read more »
Image

Allan's Falafel celebrates ten years in Chester
By Ginny Privitar
Allan’s Falafel on Main Street in Chester celebrates their tenth year in business this August. The business is thriving — so much so,...

Read more »
Image

NY judge won't block ban on religious vaccine exemption
(AP) A judge in New York has refused to block a state law repealing a religious exemption to vaccine mandates.
Lawyers representing 55 families in New York filed a lawsuit...

Read more »
Image

VIDEOS



Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Community Newspapers



MOST READ

Local News
Missing Goshen man found dead
  • Jul 12, 2019

MOST COMMENTED



Find more about Weather in Chester, NY