WHS teens involved in car accident fighting for stricter DWI lawsIt was a Sunday evening, at around dinnertime, on Aug. 22 when Woodbury High School senior Chelsea Vadnais was sitting at a stop light at the intersection of Valley Creek Road and Woodbury Drive.
It was a Sunday evening, at around dinnertime, on Aug. 22 when Woodbury High School senior Chelsea Vadnais was sitting at a stop light at the intersection of Valley Creek Road and Woodbury Drive.
Two other friends were also in the car — WHS junior Paige Plunkett and East Ridge High School senior Sean Fitzpatrick.
In an instant, a joyful afternoon with friends turned into tragedy when a car crashed into the rear of Vadnais’ Pontiac G6 sedan.
The driver, Edward T. Jaworski, 38, of Mahtomedi had been drinking, according to a criminal complaint in which he was charged with felony criminal vehicular operation, DWI and driving after cancellation of his license.
“It was only three seconds long, but it was the longest three seconds of my life,” said Vadnais, who was uninjured in the crash.
Plunkett received minor injuries. But Fitzpatrick nearly died when he collided with the seat in front of him.
“When I saw Sean, it was probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Plunkett said.
After many surgeries and hours of hospitalization and rehabilitation Fitzpatrick returned to school at East Ridge on Monday.
His friends in the vehicle with him that day have turned their traumatic experience into a mission to fight for stronger DWI laws.
The girls are currently working with WHS Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) to propose a bill, called “Fitzy’s Law” after Fitzpatrick, which would inflict stricter DWI penalties.
The proposed law would require that anyone who has more than two drunken-driving convictions that involved a car accident would serve a minimum of five years, and a maximum of 10 years, in jail.
Vadnais and Plunkett said they decided to stand up and do something because accidents such as this happen way to often.
“Accidents like this could happen to anyone, anytime — we’re examples of that,” Vadnais said. “So many other’s didn’t have the chance to stand up because they lost their life, so we feel like it’s our job to stand up.”
The complete story is available in the Nov. 3 print edition of the Woodbury Bulletin.