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Sarah Panzau  Sarah Panzau

"On August 23, 2003 I was in a near fatal car accident which changed my life forever. On the road, I was clinically dead and was given a 0% chance of survivability. I did not have a blood pressure or a pulse and was no longer bleeding. A policeman (who was on an East St. Louis over-pass picking up shell casings from a shooting the night before) and an ambulance crew (that was returning to Illinois from a transfer) just happened on my accident. While I was lifeless on the road, considering calling the coroner, they witnessed an agginal breath, and I was immediately intubated. I was stabilized and air lifted by helicopter to St. Louis University where I lived the next 6 weeks. 2 weeks in a coma and 4 weeks in intensive care and on a ventilator.

My injuries were: a traumatic left arm amputation, a LaForte type II fracture of the maxilla, a fractured mandible-in 7 places, a degloving (scalping) of the whole back of my head and left neck down to the carotid artery and jugular vein. A right sided flail chest, left knee disarticulation, severing 3 major ligaments, fractured left clavicle and scapula, a degloving down to muscle of the left scapular area, bilateral hemo thorax, bilateral pnuemo thorax, 3rd degree liver laceration, half way severing my right ear off and multiple other lacerations. I had a pulmonary embolism, which required a thoroscopy and eventually a thoracotomy. All totaled, I initially spent 77 days in the hospital. Those 77 days were just the beginning of many more hospitalizations for life threatening infections and many more surgeries for the next year and a half.

But after near 40 surgeries, I am here to tell my story. It was a miracle that I survived the accident. I was out with my friends (the people I thought really cared about me.) These so called friends let me get into my car with a blood alcohol level of 0.308. That is almost 4 times the legal limit in the state of Illinois.

Prior to my accident, I only lived for today. I lived like I would never die. I had turned my back on my family and I had very little purpose in life. I had quit school, and gave up a full ride volleyball scholarship. A two-time all American Volleyball player to bartender! I had no direction in life.

My life has totally changed and I have started public speaking to teens and young adults about drinking and driving, making good decisions, what is important in life, and the importance of parents and family. It is a presentation of courage, determination, and the celebration, that emphasizes making the right choices in life."

Sarah signed with Anheuser-Busch to be a part of their Speakers Bureau. Anheuser-Busch allows speakers, like Sarah, to take their stories and presentations from coast to coast. These stories and presentations reinforce the message of being responsible when it comes to alcohol - about why you shouldn't drink underage and about why you shouldn't drink and drive.

Sarah's presentation is not like any prevention lecture ever given. All in all, she has given her presentation to 90,000 teens and young adults.

While Sarah was with us at Tow Distributing for the day, we had the honor of speaking to students and faculty at Central High School in Mankato as well as Nicollet Public High School in Nicollet. Sarah's presentation to Nicollet was featured in The Ledger, a local news publication for that area.

You can read more about Sarah's story at: http://www.sarahsjourney.com/index.htm.


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