Motivational speaker shares her story with MSU students

Motivational speaker shares her story with MSU students Thursday
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A drunk driving accident changed her life. Now one woman hopes her story will steer people away from drunk driving.

Sarah Panzau brought her story to McNeese for Alcohol Awareness Week. We warn you the story does contain graphic images.

Most people have seen fact sheets that list a bunch of statistics on drunk driving but nothing is quite as impactful as seeing and hearing from someone first hand.

"August 23 of 2003 was the day that changed my life forever," said Panzau, Thursday's motivational speaker.

Before that fateful day, Panzau was a successful college volleyball player at the top of her game. But she dropped out sophomore year and started bartending.

"It became a problem for me because I made it my lifestyle, you know I drank and partied all the time," said Panzau.

And the partying continued until the age of 21 when she got in her car after a night of bar-hopping, four times over the legal limit.

"My car flipped four times front over back. I was dragged against the guard rail almost 40 feet. They actually found clumps of my hair and skin attached to the guardrail posts. I was then ejected out of the back windshield," explained Panzau.

Panzau also lost her left arm, but was lucky to be alive in a crash she says, "Without doubt should have killed me."

Following nearly 30 surgeries and months in the hospital, Panzau says receiving a second chance is an understatement, but she's using it to speak to students like the group Thursday at McNeese State University, where it's also Greek Week.

Daniel Robles one of the attendees says, "Underage drinking is kind of a big deal everywhere."

A decade after the crash, Panzau still gets emotional telling her story, but hopes people remember her story.

"I was the girl that thought she had her entire life to live a certain way and do her thing but one choice and one day changed that forever for me," said Panzau.

Panzau is living proof that poor choices can lead to drastic consequences and she hopes her presentation can reach others and help prevent them from becoming a statistic.

For more information on Panzau:

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