Attorney General Headshot

Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg

Attorney General Seal

Survivor of Drunk-Driving Crash Speaks to South Dakota High School Students

Survivor of Drunk-Driving Crash Speaks to South Dakota High School Students about Importance of Making Good 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 sponsored by Anheuser-Busch wholesalers as part of the company’s commitment to fighting underage drinking and drunk driving.  

Living Proof is presented by Sarah Panzau, a two-time member of the National Junior College Athletic Association women’s volleyball All-America team.  Poor choices can have drastic consequences, but if you learn from your mistakes, the end result can be positive – and Panzau is Living Proof.  

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.  

“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.”

Panzau knew what it was like to be on top of her game – and on top of the world.  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 9:00 a.m. Monday with a presentation to students at Rapid City Central High School in Rapid City.  The tour is sponsored by local Anheuser-Busch distributors Eagle Sales of Black Hills, Beal Distributing, Eagle Sales of Chamberlain, Ellwein Brothers and John A. Conkling Distributing. 

“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 $750 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

-Schedule attached-

Sarah Panzau Tour of South Dakota High Schools
March 30-April 3, 2009
Dates, times and locations of appearances*

Monday, March 30

9:00 a.m.             Rapid City Central, Rapid City, SD

1: 00 p.m.             Jefferson Academy High School, Rapid City, SD

Wholesaler Contact (Eagle Sales of the Black Hills, Laura Peel - 605-343-2490)

Tuesday, March 31

9:00 a.m.              Lyman County High School, Presho, SD

1:30 p.m.               Todd County High School, Mission, SD

Wholesaler Contact (Eagle Sales of Chamberlain, Pat Kerwin - 605-734-5929)

Wednesday, April 1

10:00 a.m.            Woonsocket High School, Woonsocket, SD

1:00 p.m.               Wessington Springs High School, Wessington Springs, SD

Wholesaler Contact (Ellwein Brothers, Inc, Dave Ellwein - 605-352-2620)

Thursday, April 2

9:00 a.m.               Scotland High School, Scotland, SD            

2:20 p.m.               Bon Homme High School, Tyndall, SD

Wholesaler Contact (John A. Conkling Dist., Joe Gill - 605- 665-9351)

Friday, April 3

9:15 a.m.               Roosevelt High School, Sioux Falls, SD

2:00 p.m.               Madison High School, Madison, SD 

Wholesaler Contact (Beale Distributing, Tom Brown - 605-336-2988)

*Media interested in attending should call the wholesaler contacts listed.