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Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg

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Drunk-Driving Crash Survivor is Living Proof of the Power of Good and Bad Decisions

Drunk-Driving Crash Survivor is Living Proof of the Power of Good and Bad Decisions

PIERRE, S.D.-  Attorney General Larry Long announced today that high school students across the state will have an opportunity next week to witness a compelling presentation called Living Proof that is being sponsored by Anheuser-Busch wholesalers as part of the company’s commitment to fighting underage drinking and drunk driving.  

“As parents and educators, it is our responsibility to teach young people about the importance of respecting the law and making smart, responsible choices,” says Long.  “We are fortunate to welcome such a powerful speaker to South Dakota schools to help reinforce our ongoing efforts and further motivate students to exercise personal responsibility and respect the law.”

Poor choices can have drastic consequences, but if you learn from your mistakes, the end result can be positive – and Sarah Panzau is Living Proof.  As a two-time member of the National Junior College Athletic Association women’s volleyball All-America team, Panzau knew what it was like to be on top of her game – and on top of the world.  But not long after, she nearly lost it all.  

Somewhere between life as a competitively driven high-school athlete and the early years of college, she began heading down a destructive path.  She found herself hanging out with the wrong crowd and getting more out of drugs and dangerous levels of alcohol than hitting the books and spiking a ball.

Panzau will recount the pattern of poor choices that finally caught up with her to students at 10 South Dakota schools.  The week-long tour kicks off at 8:30 a.m. Monday with a presentation to students at Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls.  The tour is sponsored by local Anheuser-Busch distributors Beal Distributing, Eagle Sales of Chamberlain, Ellwein Brothers and John A. Conkling Distributing. 

In the early morning hours of Aug. 23, 2003, Panzau's car – and her life spun out of control.  With a blood-alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit, the 21-year-old decided to drive home drunk, missed a highway exit and rolled her car four times.  Without a seat belt, she was ejected through the rear window of her car, her left arm was torn from her body and she was thrown onto the roadway. The next thing she remembers, she was in the hospital being told that she had lost her arm. She remained hospitalized for several months and has endured more than 30 surgeries.  

“Sarah’s story, while gut-wrenching, is such a powerful example,” says Arch Beal, president and general manager at Beal Distributing.  “Her message truly resonates with the students because she is young and was active and popular in school.  When she tells them to make good decisions, to think before they act, to not drink when underage and never drive drunk…they really get it.  That is why we feel so strongly about helping Sarah spread her message.”

For her part, Panzau recognizes it was a series of poor choices that led up to that tragic night and hopes others will learn from her mistakes.  She started speaking to students because, until the crash, she was in their shoes: invincible and with the world ahead of her.

Since 1982, Anheuser-Busch and its wholesalers have invested more than $675 million in national advertising campaigns and community-based programs to promote responsible drinking and prevent alcohol abuse. For more information on these efforts and the progress being made, visit

Sarah Panzau Tour of South Dakota High Schools
April 7-11, 2008
Dates, times and locations of appearances*

Monday, April 7

8:30 a.m. Lincoln High School
                2900 S. Cliff Ave.
                Sioux FallsSD 57105

1: 30 p.m. Brandon Valley High School 
301 S. Splitrock Blvd.  
BrandonSD 57005

Tuesday, April 8

9:30 a.m. Dakota Valley High School 
1150 Northshore Dr.
North Sioux CitySD 57049  

1:00 p.m. Vermillion High School 
                 1001 East Main St.  
VermillionSD 57069

Wednesday, April 9

9:00 a.m. Howard High School
                500 N. Section Line 
HowardSD 57349

2:00 p.m. Chamberlain High School 
1000 Sorenson Dr
ChamberlainSD 57325

Thursday, April 10

10:00 a.m. Watertown High School               
00 9th St. N.E.
WatertownSD 57201

2:00 p.m. Huron High School 
                18th and 
Nevada, S.W. 
HuronSD 57350

Friday, April 11

9:00 a.m. Madison High School 
                800 N.E. 9th St.  
MadisonSD 57042

1:30 p.m. Lennox High School
                1201 S. Main St.  
LennoxSD 57039

*Media interested in attending should contact Tom Brown at Beal Distributing at (605) 336-2988.