Lauren Walker, a junior at Wando High, knew a kid who was killed in a car wreck two summers ago.
Alyson Schoedler, a senior, doesn't personally know anyone who died in a car accident -- but her brother does.
Few people get through high school without knowing of at least one person killed in an alcohol-related car wreck. It's a sad rite of passage. In South Carolina, about half the deaths on state roads are alcohol-related, usually about 500 each year.
Another rite of passage is sitting through a film or motivational speech meant to discourage them from drinking and driving.
On Tuesday, Wando High, with Pearlstine Distributors, brought in Sarah Panzau, whose story is enough to scare anyone straight.
She can tell you the cost of drinking and driving, can rattle off the consequences. But she can do more than that.
She can show you where her left arm used to be.
The price you pay
Panzau, a star volleyball player in high school, got a free ride to junior college on a volleyball scholarship. College opened a lot of doors for her -- mostly at bars.
By the time she was 19, she was an underage bartender in St. Louis. She made a lot of new friends, did a lot of partying. School became less and less of a priority until, eventually, she dropped out. When you're under the influence, nothing seems as important as catching a buzz.
Two years later, in 2003, Panzau tried to drive home when she could barely stand. Her blood alcohol content was .31 (the legal limit in South Carolina is .08). She took a curve at 72 mph, flipped her car four times and was thrown out the back window, where she was dragged along 30 feet of guardrail.
In those few seconds, her arm was ripped off, she busted all but five vertebrae, broke various other bones. Skin was the only thing holding her jaw on. When the police happened upon her, they thought she was dead. The fact that she survived -- 37 surgeries and counting -- is a miracle.
Panzau is using her story and her second chance wisely, trying to prevent other people from doing the same thing.
Is anyone listening?
The Wando students would make great reporters. They asked Panzau probing, sometimes touchy, questions without hesitation: Does it still hurt? Can you have kids? Do you get paid for doing this?
The answers are: All the time, yes and yes -- she is sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, and her expenses are paid by local distributors like Pearlstine as part of their campaign to curb underage drinking.
But the real question is: Did the message get through?
Panzau asked the students to imagine how it feels to have a state trooper show up at your door, as Illinois police did, and tell you that your daughter is dead (which is what they thought). It is something everyone -- adults and teenagers alike -- should consider before they get loaded and drive.
Walker, who knows that a good number of kids are out drinking, says Panzau's story should convince them to call their parents when they do.
As Panzau said, you might get grounded, have your phone or car taken away. You can get those back. Other things are not so easy to replace.