Everyone who held the newspaper on Oct. 1,2007 thought she was so beautiful; fiery red hair, bright blue eyes, smiling, full of life. But Michelle had always known that about Amanda Frizzley, her best friend, her sister really, she says. Michelle didn’t want to pick up the paper, but she did, because she had to remember her best friend’s death.
It happened in the early morning hours after 4 a.m., when the streets were quiet and cold in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Mandy was on her last call, a call she didn’t have to take because it was supposed to be her night off and her shift had ended hours ago.
“She was always so willing to help,” said Michelle Golebiowski. “So willing that she called in to see if there was any more work to be done, if she could be of any help before she headed home.”
No one knows her last thoughts as she drove along Donald Street; maybe a little tired, probably calm, eager to go home to her friend Michelle, to her family. The light was green as she entered the intersection at York Avenue, when suddenly an SUV speeding the wrong way on the one-way cross-street slammed into her.
Mandy was ejected from her one-ton tow truck, the truck rolling upside down, landing on top of her body, crushing her. Mandy, 26, died at the scene. The SUV driver, whose blood alcohol level was over twice the legal limit, lived and in January 2009 was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
The backlash of her death was enormous.
“I have been severely affected by the death of such a young employee so full of life,” said Julie Roscoe, Mandy’s friend and boss at Dr. Hook Towing. “We deal everyday with the accidents caused by drunk drivers but never had it hit close to home until now. A drunk driver has taken a part of my life away forever, and I will never be the same.”
A Facebook page in memory of Mandy was created and carries over 800 followers.
Her sense of loss moved Michelle, and ultimately changed the course of her life. It was the spot of Mandy’s death that called to her, and began her battle with the Winnipeg City Council to allow for permanent memorial markers to be placed on the city’s streets.
In March 2009, after two and a half years of advocacy and working with the council on the design and size of the markers, Michelle convinced the city to allow the permanent markers, and Mandy’s was the very first to go up.
Michelle soon partnered with Manitoba Public Insurance’s Friends for Life Speaker Series in February 2011, which sends speakers to speak with young people who are new to driving in hopes of educating them to choose not to drink and drive. Michelle has toured numerous schools, clutching the newspaper she grabbed that day in October, with Mandy’s beautiful face still on it.
Not a day goes by that Michelle doesn’t see a tribute to her friend – ribbons on hundreds of Winnipeg cars, the memorial site or the city’s tow truck drivers who continue to put their lives on the line like Mandy. It is through all of this, and through Michelle herself, that
Amanda Frizzley lives on.
Mandy touched the lives of handfuls of people. Here are some of their messages. The following is from Brett Cadieux, the son of one of Mandy’s coworkers at Dr. Hook Towing:
“Amanda Frizzley lived an amazing life even though it was rather short,” says Brett. “Mandy was a great person to know. She was the kind of person that stands by you when you need somebody to be there. She had a very unique laugh. Every time I was at work in the truck with my dad and I heard her laugh on the other end of my dad’s phone, I knew right away that it was her and that usually led to us meeting her at Robins Donuts for a coffee.
“Mandy worked with my dad at Dr. Hook Towing. Mandy always made sure my dad would take the weekend shift so she could baby-sit my little brother and sister. Sometimes I would go to work with my dad during the week in the summer. Mandy and my dad always took the big jobs, like this one time at the floodway. I was with my dad at work that time. They both had to pull a truck out of the bottom from a drunk driver. Even though it was not working out well, Mandy always had a smile on her face and got the job done.
“What is it that we remember when we think of Mandy? I think everyone who knew her well would agree with me on this.
It was her commitment to work. She loved her job so much she used to help tow cars away for special events such as the Manitoba Marathon.
She was the kind of person that would be able to get down and dirty for any task. You would never think you would ever see a girl driving a tow truck but that was Mandy’s life. She always told me to find a job I love.
“Mandy’s death was sudden. I remember when I heard the news I simply could not believe it. Mandy was too young but as it slowly occurred to me I have realized that Mandy indeed lived her life wonderfully. Mandy was well-loved and she had done so many things on earth and I’m sure she’ll do much more in heaven. I will forever be grateful to have known Mandy.
“Just last week I had a driver’s education class. I knew we were having a guest speaker in but I never knew it would be her best friend, Michelle, sharing the story. I didn’t know what to do. I thought to myself I needed to go talk with her right away and let her know. It was a relief because since the day Mandy passed away I knew her story needed to be shared to kids my age because drinking and driving is becoming a huge problem now-a-days and we need to make a change. I think Mandy’s story is a very good example. Michelle had a great presentation. I could tell that the subject got people’s attention. I even saw a couple of girls in my class cry because of the news. I thought it had a positive impact on everyone.”
Another message from Harriet Zimmer, the Balmoral Hall School guidance counsellor in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was sent in to Michelle to share. Harriet says:
“Michelle Golebiowski spoke to the Grade 9-12 students at Balmoral Hall School, Winnipeg, Manitoba, on March 7, 2011. She was recommended by Adam Cheadle from the Road Safety Program at Manitoba Public Insurance to speak on impaired driving. Previous to having Michelle at the school, I had heard her tell her story on a local radio station. I found Michelle’s story captivating and her message about the consequences of drinking and driving one that my students needed to learn about.
“As soon as you meet Michelle you feel her passion for her mission. The students felt the same and were engaged by Michelle’s story about Amanda from the moment she stepped on the stage. The drama of showing a picture of Amanda followed by an account of the evening previous to her tragic death captured the students. She shared many facts about tow truck operators and their commitment to their jobs. Michelle allows her audience to become a part of her friendship with Amanda and then experience the loss of one person’s decision to drink and drive.
“It becomes evident that speaking to audiences is Michelle’s therapy and part of the healing process. The fact that she overcame many obstacles to have a memorial plaque put up at the scene demonstrates her tenacity to keep Amanda’s memory alive.
I will be inviting Michelle back to speak to my students again. This is a story that needs to be repeated in order to save lives.”
And, finally, Mandy’s boss, Julie Roscoe, who spoke briefly above, shares her full message on the loss of Mandy:
“My name is Julie Roscoe. I was Amanda Frizzley’s employer at Dr. Hook Towing and a close friend. Amanda was known by many nicknames, and mine for her was “The Frizz.” Amanda was the same age as my daughter Colleen. They were born just over a month apart, and I believe that if they had met when they were young, they would have been best friends. I always found Mandy to be easy to get along with; her laugh would ring through the entire building. You always knew when “The Frizz” had arrived.
“I miss her smile and her infectious laugh.”
Even when she did not work here, she would stop in for a visit, usually on days when there was fresh banana bread; it was almost as if she could smell it. When she decided to come back to work here I was very happy.
She loved many things in life and she had a passion for towing. She once said that it was ‘in her blood.’
“At 5 p.m. the evening before she was killed my phone rang; it was Mandy asking if she was needed to work that night. It was a Saturday night and it was her night off, but she knew we were short staffed and always wanted to help. Imagine being 26 years old and so full of life, caring enough to come to work on your day off. Little did I know it would be the last time I would ever hear her voice again. My world changed just before 5 a.m. the next morning, when my home phone rang and they said there had been a collision involving Mandy.
“They said it was bad and my heart started to race. I drove to the accident scene and was told that Mandy had been taken to the Health Science Centre. I then drove there to be told that my employee and friend did not make it. Everything after that was a blur. Her parents needed to be called, the doctor said they would do that but they needed the phone number. I remember thinking how horrible I felt and wanting to scream.
“I have been severely affected by the death of such a young employee so full of life. We deal everyday with the accidents caused by drunk drivers but never had it hit close to home until now. A drunk driver has taken a part of my life away forever, and I will never be the same. I still wake up with a start every time my phone rings wondering if everyone is all right. Every time I hear sirens I get out of bed, just to make sure my son has gotten home OK.
“I hope that everyone will think about the pain that has been endured by Mandy’s family, friends and coworkers. The young man that chose to drink and drive got to go home from the hospital and Mandy did not. That is not fair, but life is not fair sometimes. This did not need to happen.
“Michelle was Mandy’s best friend. She has chosen to be Mandy’s spokesperson, to advocate on her behalf and help people to make a choice to not drink and drive. I am constantly amazed by Michelle’s drive to not let Mandy’s death be in vain. She is the kind of person that we all need out there spreading the word, so that all our families and friends can be out on the roads and come home safely every night.
“I was present with Michelle when she went to view the plaque that has been erected at the corner of Donald Street and York Avenue. This was a milestone, and it was only because of Michelle’s perseverance that made it possible to have this first-ever memorial plaque erected here in Winnipeg. Michelle has a strong voice about the choices that we make in life and is driven by her love for her best friend to get her point across to as many people as will listen. Please hear her message and make a choice to not drink and drive.
“Michelle: Thank you for speaking out on Mandy’s behalf. We are all so proud that you have taken on this mission and know that you do this with love in your heart.”
For more information and to book a presentation with Michelle, visit www.michellegolebiowski.com.