It has been one year since a drinking and driving hit-and-run took the life of a Sioux Falls woman riding on the back of a motorcycle.
Sunday, family and friends are remembering Tracy Handel, 36, for her hugs, smiles and the legacy she leaves behind.
It was this very weekend, in 2012, when Tracy Handel was blocks from home at the intersection of 26th and Grange in Sioux Falls. She was riding with her friend Sean Burns on the back of a motorcycle when they were struck from behind. Both were injured and hospitalized. Tracy later died.
"My heart feels like it's been forever to go that long without hearing your sister's voice or seeing her face. My heart feels like it's been forever. I know in my mind it's only been a year but it's my heart that aches the most for her," Tracy's sister Tammy Handel said. "We're just focusing on honoring her memory, and living out in our daily lives her legacy and the love she brought into our lives for the 36 years we had her."
Tammy Handel ties a purple wrap around the pole on the corner as a reminder, not just of Tracy, but of what can happen when you don't think twice.
"We're responsible for the people whose paths we cross when we get into our vehicle. To have Phil Sorensen's family go through it from a distracted driver, and then not even two days later, for us to be put in the same position from a drunk driver, it just brings up the point that when you get behind the wheel, you can't take that lightly," Tammy said.
It's about Tracy's memory now, and not forgetting what everyone loved most.
"Her smile and the way she would hug you, some of her friends call it a Tracy hug. You felt completely wrapped in her arms," Handel said.
Now that it has been a year, Tammy wants to make a difference and has high hopes of doing just that.
"Every time I see another accident from a distracted or drunk driver, it breaks my heart because people don't seem to understand it. I will do everything I can to get the word out," Handel said.
The man responsible, Darren Lee Boomgarden, 41, is serving time in prison. Tammy says she's maintained contact with Boomgarden and his family. Since day one, she says he's held himself accountable 100% for his actions which has helped the Handel family, find peace.
Though, Tammy knows it won't bring Tracy back, Boomgarden's remorse has been an unexpected gift since her sister's death.
Friday, August 1 2014 10:19 PM EDT2014-08-02 02:19:37 GMT
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