Drunk driver tells her tale

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Almost 10 years ago, Sarah Panzau got behind the wheel with a blood alcohol level of .308.

Going into a coma was just one frightening result for the Belleville, Ill. native.

The drunk-driving wreck incurred the amputation of her left arm, severed ligaments, lacerations, a pulmonary embolism and degloving, or scalping, of different areas of her body, including the back of her head and left side of her neck, among several other injuries.

“When I woke up from my coma after my crash had happened and I realized what I had done and what had happened as far as my own drunk-driving crash, first of all No. 1, I was so thankfully lucky that I didn’t kill anybody else,” Panzau said in a phone interview with Current in Fishers, “and I knew that I was given another chance…”

She will tell her story, “Sarah’s Journey,” tonight at Fishers High School at 7 p.m.

She said she her first presentation was on Nov. 14, 2004 the year following the accident.

“You know when you wake up and you’ve seen the light, I started thinking that this is what I wanted to do as soon as I got out of the hospital, when I got well enough,” she said.

Panzau said when talking to different students and groups from all over the country, people can take away different messages and didn’t want to narrow it down to one major take-away, although a point was made that make a second mistake and get behind the wheel after drinking.

“A kid that might not drink and has never touched alcohol, never wants to touch alcohol will gather and take away that he needs to go home and hug his mom tonight,” she said.

Panzau has been all over the United States, and said she presents at a different school in a different state weekly for eight months out of the year.

“The most rewarding (of public speaking) part is when somebody says that you’ve changed their life in one hour,” Panzau said.

Tonight’s presentation of “Sarah’s Journey” is sponsored by Hamilton Southeastern Parents in Partnership and Terrance Smith Distributing.

It will take be held in the auditorium at FHS with parking available on the east side of school. The presentation is geared towards teens and adults alike.

For more information, visit www.sarahsjourney.com.


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