Sioux Falls, SD
Speeding is something we've all done, whether it's to get work on time or for the thrill of the ride.
But, what many may forget is that high speeds come with dangerous consequences. One KELOLAND woman’s family found that out after her need for speed proved too fast for her to handle.
At just 22-years-old Dana Bliek had the world at her fingertips.
"Very outgoing, personable, friendly to everybody," Jackie Bliek said.
"Dana was just one of those girls, one of those people, you have to look twice you to walk up and get to know because she has that face, that personality," Billy Thomas said.
To go with that vibrant personality, the bright blue eyed beauty lived life in the fast lane.
"We loved enduros, races and demolitions," Bliek said.
Racing was something Dana's mom, Jackie Bliek, exposed her to at a young age. Fast speeds and fancy cars quickly became a way of life.
"That’s my Dana," Bliek said.
"When we first bought it every young kid in town was trying to race her, they'd pull up at stop lights and rev their engines up," Thomas said.
While the girl with a need for speed on the road loved the thrill of putting the pedal to the metal, it seemed like she was starting to slow down, at least in other parts of her life.
"We were together four and a half years," Thomas said. "We started talking about getting engaged and getting married,"
Thomas asked Dana to marry him before he was set to deploy overseas last June. The couple was preparing for one year of separation and at the last minute got a chance to spend one last weekend together.
"I got a call from the commander at our hotel saying hey, just stay at the hotel we're giving you guys the weekend off, call your girlfriends, wives, friends, family, tell them to spend the weekend with you," Thomas said.
Dana was more than ecstatic, jumping in her supped-up car in Sioux Falls to head to Aberdeen where Billy was.
"Four hours had past and I still hadn't heard anything, I'm texting, I'm calling, she's not answering," Thomas said.
After what seemed like forever, Thomas got a call from his mother he never expected.
"She says, 'I don't know how to tell you this but Dana's not with us anymore,'" Thomas said.
What Thomas and Dana's mom would later find out is that Dana pushed her car to more than 100 miles per hour down interstate 29 when she lost control, flipping her car end over end until it came to a rest right. A crash that’s still fresh in the memory of Highway Patrol Sergeant Steve Swenson.
"This would be one of the most violent crashes I've seen," Swenson said.
Swenson says when he arrived on the scene the car was mangled and engulfed in flames. There was no way to get inside to see if anyone was in the car.
"It’s a hopeless feeling no matter how bad you want to go to that car, you get so close and that's as close as you can get," Swenson said.
"Just the thought of her being burned in a car possibly alive, I think that hits me the hardest, it still hits me hard today even to talk about it," Thomas said.
While there were reports that Dana had been racing another vehicle, Sergeant Swenson says they were never able to confirm that. But, what is known for sure is that speed is what caused the crash.
"I knew she once and a while liked to mess around in her car and go a little fast, I never thought 120 miles per hour," Thomas said.
Next month will mark one year since the crash. But, those close to Dana continue to struggle with the reality of what happened.
"It takes the breath out of you, like a sucker punch. I can't go downstairs and hug her or talk to her," Bliek said.
Despite the pain of losing the light of their lives, Bliek and Thomas are now speaking out about Dana's story, in hopes others will learn from her mistake. It's something they say Dana would have wanted.
"If there are people out there you love, slow down," Bliek said.
"I want everyone out there to think twice before they push the gas pedal over the speed limit, do you really want to get that phone call like I did?" Thomas said.
A call that changed the lives of everyone who came across the girl who so could easily light up a room.
"I think Dana is just one of those people you'll never forget, I think she'll live on forever," Thomas said.
"As a mother I wanted the best for her, and she got it being in heaven," Bliek said.
Family members plan to hold a vigil in honor of Dana on June 25th, the one year anniversary of her death, at the crash site.