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Mom: 'For that moment, it's like they're right there'

Candlelight vigil Friday will honor lives lost to preventable crime

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Thursday marked eight months since a 12-year-old girl was killed in a horrific crash in Arlington by a suspected drunk driver.

Savannah Pfeiffer died in the hospital a week after the crash, which also hurt four other people at the corner of Merrill Road and Townsend Boulevard.

Stanley Robert Jefson is charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in the crash.

Thursday, Savannah's mother, sisters and other family members prepared for a candlelight vigil to unite all families who have lost loved ones too soon.

The vigil for Compassionate Families will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Shepherd's Fold Church of God off Merrill Road. Refreshments will be served.

"Tomorrow this tree is going to be used for the families to write a love message to their loved one for Christmas and they'll hang them on this little tree," said Patricia Smith, Savannah's mother. "For that second, for that moment, it's like they're right there. That's all that you think about and that's all that you see. Just for that moment, it's just you and them once again." 

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The little tree (pictured) is meant to serve as more than a symbol of Christmas, but also as a symbol of hope and peace as more than 100 families remember loved ones who lost their lives to preventable crime.

"I've decorated her grave with flowers, and I bought her little solar lights with angels with wings and they light up at night," Smith said. "I bought her Christmas flags: one with snowman and one with angels. And at her roadside memorial, I wrapped red holly all the way around it."
 
Smith said even though Savannah won't be home for Christmas, she's wrapped a special gift for her under the family Christmas tree.
 
"I got my daughter this book so that when I go to visit with her I can read to her. That's the closest on this (Earth) I can ever get to her. But someday -- and I tell her every day, 'I'm one day closer baby because mom is another day older.' -- We're one day closer to seeing her again, and that's what gets me through every day knowing that my Lord will take me home, and she'll be there and I won't have pain anymore."
 
For more information on the vigil, go to facebook.com/events/562540120546589.