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Teen driving forum held in Ballston Spa

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Albany/HV: Teen driving forum held in Ballston Spa
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A community forum was held in Saratoga County to give residents the opportunity to discuss the recent loss of two teenage girls in car crashes. Organizers say the goal is to promote safe driving. Innae Park has more.

SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- “It really is important to experience pain and that is really the only way to eventually let the pain go,” said Sarah Etkin-Sefcik, Community Hospice of Saratoga Bereavement Counselor.

It's the grief from losing two young girls that has brought a forum like this together. Tuesday night, a number of local organizations gathered to provide resources, supply information and be an outlet after Kari Liedel was killed over a week ago in a drunk driving accident.

“We don't want Kari to be forgotten. We don't want her to have lost her life in vain,” said Heather Liedel, Kari’s aunt.

Those who came shared in and supported in their grief.

Melody Scaia knows the pain firsthand. Her daughter, Noelle Johnsen, was also killed in a car crash earlier this year.

Scaia said, “It does get easier. I never thought I'd say that because I thought I was going to die inside.”

And as tokens of remembrance were created and seeds planted, the belief is that hope will bloom.

“You never get over your grief. What we counsel people on is how to carry your grief with you so that it becomes much, much smaller, not as intense as it is right now,” Etkin-Sefcik said.

“It's kind of comforting to know they're getting through it. It makes me think that eventually we'll heal,” Heather Liedel said, another one of Kari’s aunts.

Until then, Kari's loved ones carry on the call for safer driving.

“The smallest thing can make you swerve. If you're not paying attention, someone can get hurt,” said Heather Wright, a friend of Kari’s.

“I think it might help people to realize this happens. It's not pretend. People actually kill other people because they do stupid stuff like this,” said another one of Kari’s friends, Sam Hika.

If you or someone you know is in need of counseling, there are bereavement resources available through the Ballston Spa School District website or you can go to the Facebook page of Saratoga County Teen Driver Safety.

As for the crash in Milton, Gavin Staulters has been charged with one count of driving while intoxicated. He was released from the Saratoga County Jail Sunday on $5,000 bail.

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