Clarkstown dedicates butterfly garden to 13-year-old girl killed by drunk driver
People in Clarkstown came together Tuesday to rededicate a garden in honor of a teen killed by a drunk driver eight years ago.
Larisa Karassik, 13, was upstate with family Memorial Day weekend 2015. She and her dad were getting ice cream with a friend when a drunk driver hit their car.
Her friend, Anastasia Khilko, is alive nine surgeries later. She says it is still difficult to talk about the incident.
"Not even being a teenager yet, I laid in that field watching black smoke fill the air above me and consciously prepared myself for the feeling of death I thought was coming” she says.
Larisa’s friends say they are always thinking about her as they grew older without her, including when they graduated.
"This has still been haunting us for eight years and it haunts me every day,” says Cassie Blotner, Larisa’s friend. “Everyone at my school knows about Larisa. I talk about her every day.”
Anastasia Karassik, Larisa's mom, adds, “There's always that empty seat in every milestone that we go through…Her life was cut short, and she was robbed of all these opportunities due to one person making a poor choice."
Ever since the incident, Karassik has advocated against drunk driving.
The rededication of the garden serves not just as a memorial, but a mission to honor Larisa by keeping other young people safe during the 100 deadliest days-- the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day when more kids die from drunk and distracted driving than during any other time.
"It's the greatest single cause of death for teenagers in the U.S.,” says Clarkstown Town Supervisor George Hoehmann.
The group is asking for the community to take the pledge, sign a ribbon for Larisa and keep her memory alive by keeping others safe on the road.
Larisa's family asks residents to make a plan before a night out and that with technology like Uber, there's no excuse to drink and drive.