Sarah Panzau’s Story

Jeremy Beaver, Staff Reporter

Ten years ago, Sarah Panzau had no idea her life would never be the same. On March 19, FHS welcomed Panzau to share her story with the junior class.

Panzau grew up near St. Louis and was a very successful high school volleyball player. She had full scholarships to play at over 20 different universities and was a two time All-American. To this day, she still holds volleyball records at her high school.

Instead of going to college, she stayed home because “like every young girl experiences,” she said. “I was in love.” She instead attended a junior college and became a bartender at age 19. Since she chose this path, she was faced with a life changing tragedy.

August 23, 2003 was the night her life changed forever. She was out partying with her friends. With a blood alcohol level of .305, nearly four times the legal limit, she decided to call it a night, get into her car and drive home. Driving home at 4 a.m., her car slid off the road after going over 70 mph on a 30 mph ramp.

Her car started to skid and dragged her upper body on the side rail before she was ejected out of her car. Her car then flipped over four times. When the policeman and an ambulance crew showed up, she was clinically dead. She had no heartbeat, no pulse and was no longer bleeding.

“It’s just not worth it,” Panzau said. “It’s just not worth it.”

When they witnessed a breath, she was immediately hospitalized. Her injuries included a left arm amputation, a fractured jaw in seven places, a scalping of the whole back of her head and left neck, a half severed right ear and a metal puncture below her chin and out her mouth. She was 21.

However, after over 40 surgeries, she was here to share her story. She revealed her scars by wearing jogging shorts and a tank top.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen to me,” Panzau said while showing photos of the accident.

Walking around the auditorium, grabbing every student’s eye, she explained the struggles she’s had to deal with since her accident. Panzau also admitted that while everything was her fault, her so-called ‘friends’ were the ones that let her drive home in the first place. Sharing this, she teaches FHS to figure out who your true friends are. She wrapped up her presentation by sharing a quote from her favorite artist, Pink.

“Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever, ever feel like you’re less than…,” Panzau said wiping a tear away. “…less than perfect.”

The event closed with “Perfect” by Pink being played throughout the auditorium while students lined up to take pictures, talk to and hug Panzau.

“Not many people get to walk throughout life and impact people by telling their story,” Panzau said. “I’m just blessed to have that opportunity.”

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