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Put Down the Keys

The Ripple Effect of a Tragic Crash

In 2009, a beloved, Northern California mother was a victim of drunk driving, leaving many people devastated. However, over the years, the dedicated volunteer work of the daughter she left behind, has saved many lives.

On April 22nd, Kate Swanson’s 63-year old mother, Mona Swanson-Norman, was killed. A truck, heading down the highway in the wrong direction with its headlights off, struck Mona’s car head on. The collision killed Kate’s mother instantly. The driver of the truck was high on meth and had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit.

“More than 600 people showed up to her memorial service,” Kate recalls. “Nobody can imagine how far something like this reaches.”

The ripple effect of a tragic crash reaches far and wide.

About a year after the crash, struggling to cope with the loss of her mother, Kate realized she needed to be around people that understood what she was going through. Kate found Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

The sense of loss will always be painful for Kate and her family. “The holiday season, in particular, has been hard,” shared Kate.

With time, the pain has become less extreme. Kate has learned to manage her grief, in part, by channeling her energy into volunteering regularly with MADD.

Every year, she shares her story with thousands of teens and hundreds of DUI offenders hoping to stop future tragedies and save lives. Kate strongly believes in MADD’s education programs and feels honored to play an integral part in its awareness efforts.

When Kate’s step-father delivered the terrible news about her mother’s death, all Kate could think was, “there is no way this is happening to me. This only happens to other people.”

In dealing with her loss and finding solace in her work with MADD, Kate has come to realize she probably has one thing in common with the driver of the crash, she says “he probably didn’t think this was ever going to happen to him either.”

Kate’s story is a tragic example of the consequences of drunk driving. She is quick, to remind us, however, that it is fine to have some fun once in a while.

“I’m not here to tell people not to drink,” she said. “Go have some fun but, just be responsible. Be thoughtful and think ahead about how you plan to get around because drinking and driving just is not worth it.”

According to MADD, New Year’s Day is the deadliest day of the year for drunk driving deaths. Additionally, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows more than 10,000 people died in 2013 in crashes involving a drunk driver, that’s roughly one death every 52 minutes.

This New Year’s Eve, State Farm reminds all drivers to be safe and take these simple steps to help prevent drinking and driving.