Story written and photos compiled by: Ava Bonavia and Sami Stuart
Every day, 28 people in the United States die in a motor vehicle crash that involves an alcohol impaired driver.
Every 90 seconds a person is injured in a drunk driving crash.
Before this summer, these statistics were just simply facts that everyone had to be aware of. Unfortunately, the Grandview community realized this summer, with the loss of student Phoebe Lester, that the people killed in drunk driving are more than just a number.
To Amanda Hanley, Phoebe was a friend who brought nothing but positive energy everywhere she went.
“She never had a negative thing to say about anything or anyone,” Hanley said. “If there was one (way) to describe Phoebe, it would be that she just brought light and kindness to everyone.”
On July 4, 2016, Hanley discovered that in addition to being bright and bubbly, Phoebe was also very spontaneous.
“We knew each other before, like we passed each other in the hall, but we never had really hung out. Then she just randomly texted me on the Fourth of July saying ‘hey, I’m coming over to your house’. That's just how Phoebe was.”
Kalani Moore, Phoebe’s friend since sixth grade, recalls her favorite spontaneous memory with Phoebe.
“If there was one (way) to describe Phoebe, it would be that she just brought light and kindness to everyone.”- Amanda Hanley
“It was a thunderstorm and a tornado warning and she had a brilliant idea to go take a shower in the rain,” Moore said. “So we brought out shampoo and conditioner and showered in the freezing rain and after we took a hot bath. It was such a Phoebe thing to do.”
Since everyone has so many positive memories with Phoebe, it’s difficult for them to adjust to life without her.
“Sometimes I just need a boost of positivity in my day and I used to look at Phoebe for that. I feel like there is always something missing,” Moore said.
Hanley says there are several things she is going to miss about Phoebe. “A lot of it’s her presence, her just being there and being able to know what to say… she just always knew what to say.”
Although four years apart, Phoebe and her older sister, Shanne Pigott, were more like best friends than sisters. Because of how close they were, it has been hard on Shanne to adapt to life without Phoebe.
“My life is different because every little thing reminds me of her. Before, something random wouldn’t remind me of her, but now it does,” said Pigott.
With Phoebe gone so soon, many find themselves wanting to cherish the moments they have with the people they love.
Moore wants people to learn from Phoebe’s death.
“Life is too short, and you're never guaranteed another day. Live life in positivity and live it to the fullest. Be nice to everybody because you never know if that's the last time you're gonna get to see them.”
Pigott agreed adding, “Don’t take relationships for granted.”
After Phoebe’s passing, Hanley changed how she’s going to do everything from now on.
“The way I’m going to live life is I’m going to do everything for her now. The way I'm looking at it is, she's not here to live her life so I'm going to live mine for her,” Hanley said.
Phoebe Brook Lester was not just another drunk driving statistic. She meant something to every person she touched. Though she may be gone, she will never be forgotten.