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Change after tragedy: How a Tucson father's death made this intersection safer

Posted: 3:33 PM, Dec 20, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-21 00:55:55Z
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TUCSON, Ariz. — "Its still hard, I still think about him everyday. But its - I don't know - its like a process. You go through different feelings and emotions," said Sara McDermott, the daughter of two DUI crash victims.

This month marks the 13th anniversary of Scott McDermott's death. Sept. 24, 2005, he and his wife, Donna, were on their way home from renting a movie to watch with their two children at home. But once they got to the intersection of E Glenn and N Mountain, on the corner of Salpointe High School, everything changed. A 19-year-old going 90 miles per hour crashed into their car.

"I lost my dad, immediately. He died on impact. And my mom endured 2 weeks in ICU and years of rehabilitation and surgery, and so it just changed everything. It was my freshman year in college and my brother's freshman year in high school," said McDermott.

Sara says her education was delayed, coping with the loss of her father and helping her mother through recovery. But there were a few positive changes that came out of tragedy.

"It was hard but we kind of got thrown into a family from MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and homicide survivors, who have just been really supportive and really been involved in getting us into the community and raising awareness about drinking and driving," said McDermott.

And action took place at the intersection -- a flashing light was installed, warning drivers there is a stop sign and to slow down.

"I think my outlet has definitely been into raising awareness and getting the word out there, and supporting people who have also gone through what we have, but more recently. And just, kind of giving back and showing them that there is life after this," said McDermott.

What also stuck McDermott, was that the young man who killed her father was her age at the time.

"My dad always told us, no matter the circumstances, if you're going to be around alcohol, if you're going to be drinking, if you come into contact with it, if your friends who's driving you is drinking, he's like, you can call me at anytime of the night and I'll come pick you up. No questions asked. And so I would like to install that in other people, just so they can be safe and prevent injuries and death from happening," said McDermott.

"My dad always told us, no matter the circumstances, if you're going to be around alcohol, if you're going to be drinking, if you come into contact with it, if your friends who's driving you is drinking, he's like, you can call me at anytime of the night and I'll come pick you up. No questions asked. And so I would like to install that in other people, just so they can be safe and prevent injuries and death from happening," said McDermott.

She says drinking and driving is 100-percent preventable, and can happen to anyone you know. Within an instance her life changed drastically - but still 13 years later, she is deciding to continuously put positive action into her community.

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