Elizabeth Andersen

It was Easter Sunday March 31, 1991. Our beautiful daughter Elizabeth J. Andersen died two days before her eighteenth birthday of injuries sustained in a car crash March 28th, 1991.

The DRUNK DRIVER that caused a head on collision had been drinking and partying all day in his red pickup truck. A vehicle that was unregistered, uninspected, four bald tires, faulty steering and no insurance. The man started his day with four shots of Black Velvet and at the time of the crash twelve hours later had a blood alcohol content of .25. Two and one-half the legal New York State limit.

Elizabeth’s friend Chaundra Tyler was driving her car. She died at the scene. The steering wheel impaled her chest and her heart burst. She was a sophomore in High School. Michael Hamilton a seventeen year old senior in high School was a passenger in the back seat. He survived with multiple injuries and a head injury. He has permanent steel rods in both legs.

Elizabeth was a passenger in the front seat. On impact her feet were crushed, her legs were broken, her hips were shattered, her spleen was ruptured, she had a severe head injury, she had a fracture to the left side of her head and many facial cuts and lacerations.

Elizabeth was helicoptered to a hospital 45 minutes away by car and 15 minutes by air. In flight she had to be resuscitated. Elizabeth spent four hours in surgery, they had to remove her spleen and stop the internal bleeding. The plastic surgeon must then put her beautiful face back together. He sewed her nose back on, her chin back on and her ear back on. He also sewed up many cuts and deep lacerations.

The head injury was a time bomb. Swelling doesn’t occur for twenty-four hours, and that time was drawing near. On Saturday morning both her blood pressure dropped and her pulse rate soared. The brain was reacting. The prognosis was bleak.

On Sunday (Easter) her Doctor gathered us all in a tiny room. We could tell by the look on his face the news was bad. Her brain had swollen and cut off the fluid from the spine. She was brain dead. Emily screamed “Let’s take her home anyway.” My husband started to cry and I refused to listen. I was so empty and numb. I do remember the Doctor saying things like: Organ donating, unhooking life support and what Funeral Home do you want the body sent to. “Not my baby, take me”. I was never able to enter her hospital room again. I could not watch my daughter take her last breath.

It was over, my daughter was dead because somebody was stupid. He, The drunk, took the life of a young lady who had her whole life ahead of her.

Elizabeth had joined the Air Force. She was willing to give her life to her country. Instead a DRUNK DRIVER took it. She missed her Senior Trip and the sports banquet. I had to receive her Gold Letter in sports for eight Varsity Letters in her athletic career. At Graduation we stared at an empty space where Elizabeth should have been sitting. That same empty space that is in all of our hearts.

Elizabeth missed the Prom, but she did get to wear the dress I made her. It was beautiful. She was cremated in it.

This DRUNK DRIVER not only took my daughter, he also took my right to a son-in-law and grandchildren. He destroyed a branch of our Family Tree. Generations gone, WILLIAM SKINNER killed me that Easter Sunday too: “ONLY I DIDN’T DIE”

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New York’s STOP-DWI program is the Nations’ first and, to date, only self-sustaining impaired driving program. Other States have implemented components of self-sufficiency, but none to the degree of New York State.