by Catherine M. Pallozzi, daughter of Frances Pallozzi, killed by a drugged driver
“Drugged Driving” was a term I had not heard until that date. Mom and her friends were preparing for a 5K walk with the Volksporters walking group outside a church. They were killed by Luann Burgess, who had taken a cocktail of prescription drugs for Parkinson’s disease, including Xanax, Wellbutrin, Seroquel and others, prior to dropping off her son for summer camp. Her SUV veered from the road and traveled approximately 200 feet across the church parking lot. She struck and killed my mom, Carol Lansing and Rosemarie Hume as her vehicle came to a stop against the church bell tower. The speed at first impact was 46 mph. She made no attempt to brake.
Ms. Burgess did not leave the house that morning with the intent to kill three women but her poor decision, to drive while on a cocktail of prescription drugs, resulted in three incredible women being ripped from their husbands and families.
My family was left picking up pieces of our lives and establishing a ‘new normal’; I hate that phrase. Prior to 8:46 a.m. on Wednesday, August 10, 2011 our lives were wonderful and blessed in many ways. Mom was the nucleus of our family and the center of our celebrations. The void in our ‘new normal’ lives is cavernous.
Years later, three families are still picking up the pieces. Husbands who adored their wives continue to morn and grieve the loss of their childhood sweethearts. Fourteen children miss their mothers. The grandchildren still ask why this happened.
Why are lives taken at the hands of those under the influence of illicit or prescription drugs? Our tragedy could have been avoided by a driver making the right choice and using better judgment.