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Families honor loved ones lost to crime, violence

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Survivors sang, prayed, lit candles and honored their loved ones Friday night in a candlelight vigil for those lost to crime.

The 16th  annual event was organized by Compassionate Families.

Among those in attendance was the family of 12-year-old Savannah Pfeiffer (pictured below), who was killed in April by a suspected drunk driver. 

"She was full of life. She loved everything, everybody, even a little bug," said Patricia Smith, Savannah's mother. "Sometimes when I think about the holidays, I want them to hurry and come and go because I know Christmas morning when we wake up and her 11-year-old sister, Kayla, is on the floor opening gifts like they always did, Savannah won't be there. I will go to the cemetery and open the gifts I bought for her and tell her how much I love her and miss her, and I will do it every year until the day my Lord takes me home. This is the prison I have been sentenced to and I carry it every day."

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A roomful of others carrying the same heavy burden and the feeling of a ripped heart that won't heal joined Smith on Friday at Shepherd's Fold Church of God in Arlington.

"We've all lost something to another mechanism, and that mechanism --whether it be behind the wheel and drunk or behind a gun and shooting -- the problem is the final outcome is the same, we don't have our loved ones anymore," said Carl Harms with Compassionate Families.

As the families prepare for the holidays, they have a message for the community:

"Please, please be responsible, that's all I ask," Smith said. "Drive safe, be safe this holiday season. Think of your loved ones."