UTAH (ABC4) – Memorial Day weekend is the official start of the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer” on Utah roads. One Utah family shares how they turned a near-death experience being hit by a drunk driver into a powerful message of strength.

Sarah Frei’s life was suddenly changed by an accident in two years ago that left her paralyzed — but she doesn’t let what happened define her. Those around her, like her mother, say she’s an inspiration to them, teaching others to live their life to the fullest, and not let anything hold them back.

“Since I was hit by a drunk driver, I know how scary that can be… so it’s important to not drink and drive and to just be smart about the actions you make,” Sarah said. 

Sarah Frei was 17 years old when she and three friends were returning from a trip to Bear Lake on July 30, 2020. They were driving through Logan Canyon when a drunk driver hit them head on.

“We were expecting Sarah to be home from her trip in an hour and we got this phone call and it was just a nightmare,” said her mother, Amy Frei.

This led to her spending three months in the hospital, having 20 surgeries and needing both of her legs amputated above the knee.

“Re-learning how to do everything that used to be so normal was pretty difficult, that was probably the hardest time of it all,” Sarah said.

But Sarah stayed positive – and through her perseverance, was able do all the things she loved to do again, like cheerleading, swimming and golfing.

“She’s wake-surfing at Lake Powell, she’s travelling Europe and she’s been skydiving,” Amy said. “We didn’t know if she would be able to do anything ever again, it just seemed so devastating, the loss of her legs, and paralyzed as well, but to see her re-learning and getting strong so quickly after her accident was amazing.”

Recently, she returned from a trip to Germany and finished her first year in college at Utah State University, where she is studying elementary education.

“I didn’t think I would be so independent this soon after the accident, I thought I would need help from my parents for a really long time,” Sarah said.

And Sarah remains an inspiration to those around her.

“So much has changed for her, but yet, nothing has changed. She’s still the same person, same personality, same fun Sarah,” Amy said.

Sarah says that her friends that were with her at the time of the accident are doing well today, and the experience of helping and supporting each other through what happened brought them even closer.

Follow Sarah’s journey on her Instagram page.