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Survivor of near-fatal drunken driving crash shares her story

Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 11:39 a.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 11:44 a.m. CST
(Submitted Photo)
Sarah Panzau addressed Berg Middle School and Newton Senior High School students earlier this month about the dangers of drinking and driving, sharing her own story of how she was nearly killed and severely injured in a drunken driving crash.

Sarah Panzau recently spoke to students at Berg Middle School and Newton Senior High School about how poor choices can have drastic consequences.  

Somewhere between life as a competitively driven high school athlete and the early years of college, Sarah began heading down a destructive path. She found herself hanging out with the wrong crowd, getting more out of drugs and dangerous levels of alcohol than hitting the books and spiking a ball. She was trapped in a pattern of making poor choices that would one day catch up with her.

On Aug. 2, 2003, Sarah was in a near-fatal accident that resulted in a left arm amputation and other severe injuries. Her blood-alcohol content at the time of the crash was .308.

Sarah spoke to students about how her life has taken a new direction since the crash, as well as underage drinking, drunk driving, making smart choices, respecting parents and rising above disabilities.

Sarah’s appearance was coordinated through Trooper Doug Cutts and the Safety Education Unit of the Iowa State Patrol.  To read more of Sarah’s story, go to