Maegan Spindler and a co-worker were standing in a hotel parking lot three weeks ago when a suspected drunk driver hit and killed them both. On Tuesday, Spindler's family traveled from their upstate New York home to Pierre to collect their daughter's possessions following the tragic crash.
Spindler and her co-worker, Rob Klumb, were working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on July 8 conducting fisheries research with a team near Pickstown. After dinner that day, they were standing in a parking lot when authorities say they were hit by 29-year-old suspected drunk driver Ronald Fischer Jr.
Court documents say Fischer’s blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit and he was high on marijuana at the time of the crash.
Spindler planted a garden shortly after arriving in Pierre this spring to work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On Tuesday, her father Gregg Spindler walked through the garden, thinking of his daughter.
"We're just very proud to see this. I wish I could have come out to have shared some of its bounty with her," Gregg said.
The vibrant plants and produce are some of the few things Gregg and Susan Spindler have to hold onto after Maegan was killed along with Klumb.
"This driver of the vehicle, this Ron Fischer made no effort to stop," Gregg said. "He came into the parking lot at 60 miles per hour. It's a T-intersection, came straight into the parking lot at 60 miles per hour hit my daughter and Rob Klumb."
The Spindlers say their daughter came to South Dakota to chase her dream of being a fisheries biologist.
"My daughter was doing what she loved to do," Gregg said.
But those dreams are now only a memory.
"I think people need to understand this could be their child, son, child, relative. It could happen to anybody. They need to be more aware of drunken driving," Susan Spindler said.
That's one reason why the Spindlers left their upstate New York home to come to South Dakota this week. Aside from packing up their daughter's belongings they are also meeting with the governor's office to talk about ways to curb drinking and driving. One of their ideas is to add a tax to alcohol to pay for more DUI enforcement and education.
"And have a dedicated revenue stream for local, tribal and state law enforcement to more vigorously enforce the laws," Gregg said.
While they accept that even Maegan’s garden will soon be gone they want their daughter's memory, and the tragic way she died, to live on and help others.
"And turn this aircraft carrier of death and destruction, which is entirely preventable, entirely senseless and make it stop. Families shouldn't have to suffer like we have suffered" Gregg said.
Maegan was planning a trip back to home to upstate New York on July 13, just four days after she died.
Fischer has been charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and made his first court appearance in Charles Mix County Tuesday afternoon.