JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Four months after her 12-year-old daughter was killed in a horrific car accident, a grieving mother spoke about her loss and her hope to make a difference.
The crash occurred April 4 at the intersection of Merill Road and Townsend Boulevard, in Arlington. Savannah Pfeiffer (pictured below) died one week later.
Stanley Robert Jefson is charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in the crash. Jefson has entered a plea of not guilty to the charges. He's due back in court next month.
Police said Jefson was traveling 120 mph in a 30 mph zone when he slammed into the back of a truck, causing it to hit a car in front of it.
Police said Jefson's blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit. He's also had previous DUI convictions.
Savannah's mother, Patricia Smith, hopes that sharing her daughter's story will save lives in the future. Three other family members, including Smith, were in the truck when the accident happened.
"I think it's horrible," Smith said. "My child has no rights because she's not here now."
Smith said Savannah is dearly missed every day. She said Savannah was a special needs child who would have started seventh grade at Global Charter Outreach on Monday.
"She was one of the great loves of my life," Smith said. "Now I live in a prison that has been created for me."
Smith said she wants the community to see her daughter's face and hear about what kind of person she was. She also wants to show the effects drinking and driving can have on a family.
"In the end, I am left with what you see," Smith said from her daughter's gravesite. "This is where I will come every birthday, every Christmas, every Halloween, Easter, Fourth of July. This is where I will come."
Smith said Savannah was beautiful and bright, the kind of little girl who made you smile when she entered a room.
Savannah had autism and cerebral palsy, but Smith said Savannah never allowed her disabilities to get in her way. She said she thrived in school and at home. Most importantly, she had a loving heart.
"I used to say, 'I don't like bugs,'" Smith recalled. "She'd say, 'Mommy, God made bugs, and they're OK. They're good things, too.' That's how sweet she was."
As she works through healing, Smith's focus now is sharing her daughter's story and advocating against drunken driving. Her hope is to save lives in honor of Savannah's.
"This is where I come every day to visit with my daughter," Smith said. "I'll never see her have her sweet 16, graduate. If she was to get married, I'll never be able to put a veil on her head."
Smith said she plans to advocate before the Florida Legislature for stricter drunken driving laws. She also wants vendors to be held accountable for overserving alcoholic beverages.
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