Eight years ago, Pam O'Donnell got the call that no mother and wife should ever have to receive.

Her husband Tim, a local teacher and fixture in the Bayonne community, and her 5-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident.

The horror of the wreck is that while Tim was rolling up to a toll booth on the NJ Turnpike, an impaired, reckless driver slammed the car from behind at a high rate of speed, sending the car through the toll and into oncoming traffic on the other side. Tim was pronounced dead at the scene and 5-year-old Bridget died en route to the hospital.

The killer is serving a 29-year sentence for manslaughter. Turns out the man responsible for the deaths of these innocent family members was impaired and witnesses described the excessive speed and erratic driving in the minutes leading up to the crash.

Pam is an incredible woman. Strength, courage and poise in the face of a horrific turn of events in her family's life. I first connected with her in the weeks after the crash as we covered the story on my Fox TV show "Chasing News."

This week we reconnected as she launched the first annual fundraiser for her charity Catch You Later Foundation in Bayonne. The event was a huge success as the staff at the Chandelier had to bring in several more tables and chairs to accommodate the larger-than-expected crowd.

Pam spends her time speaking to young people and law enforcement about the dangers and consequences of distracted and impaired driving.

As I said in my remarks to the group on Thursday night, we'll never know the number of lives saved as kids hear Pam's horrific story and then decide to make better decisions in their own lives.

Photo via Bill Spadea
Photo via Bill Spadea

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The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own.

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