Over a year after the deaths of their two children, a grieving Chester County couple is joining other parents in a unified effort against drunk driving.
On February 14, 2015, Paul and Maggie Hannagan were driving in their minivan with their two children Miles and Charlotte as well as two other family members along Route 100 in Uwchlan Township. Suddenly a pickup truck slammed into their vehicle. The force of the collision tore the minivan apart.
“I woke up and there was nothing there,” Maggie said. “The car was gone. The floors were empty. There were no chairs.”
Miles, 19, and Charlotte, 18, were both ejected from the van even though they were wearing seat belts. They were both found on the shoulder of the roadway and pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the pickup truck, 26-year-old Thomas Muir, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Muir also escaped any serious injury.
“The guy who killed my kids didn’t even need a Band-Aid,” Paul said.
Paul, Maggie and their two relatives all survived the crash. While they continue to recover from their physical wounds, it’s been tougher to heal from the emotional ones.
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“It has been just over a year since that catastrophic night and my husband and I continue to try to live life without our wonderful children,” Maggie told NBC10. “The pain is beyond words.”
A photograph of Miles and Charlotte sits in a special place inside the Hannagan home.
“This is how I speak to my kids,” Paul said. “I talk to this photograph. It’s impossible to say how much we miss them. That’s the feeling of every family of a victim of a drunk driver.”
As they continued to cope with the tragic loss of their children, Paul and Maggie found support through other parents who also lost their kids to drunk drivers. United through their pain, they decided to take action in order to prevent future tragedies. They launched a grassroots group called PA Parents Against Impaired Driving.
The group's goal is to convince lawmakers in Harrisburg to toughen penalties against drunk drivers and enact measures that require first-time offenders to pass a breathalyzer before getting behind the wheel. For the Hannagan family, it’s a way for them to constructively deal with their loss.
“Talking about our pain is extremely difficult for all of our families,” Maggie said. “But we hope that through our efforts we will prevent other parents and loved ones from going through this life sentence.”
CLICK HERE to learn more about PA Parents Against Impaired Driving.