Danielle Marie Plourde died in an automobile collision in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, on February 20, 2006 after the SUV, which also carried her family, was broadsided by a tractor-trailer. A young woman, talking on her cell phone, drove through a stop sign and hit the tractor trailer, causing the driver to lose control, colliding with Plourde’s vehicle. Danielle was in the backseat and suffered the brunt of the crash, dying at the scene. Her mother was critically injured with a head injury.
Danielle was only 11 years old at the time of her passing. “The darkest moment in my life came at the moment when I said goodbye for the last time to my daughter as she lay in a casket,” said John Plourde, Danielle’s father.
Born in the harsh winter month of January in 1995 to John and Bernice Plourde, Danielle was a beautiful, happy baby girl, with dark hair and blue eyes. She was beloved by everyone in the community. According to her parents, Danielle was a curious child, constantly asking “what” and “why” as she was growing up. She loved reading to her younger cousins, and was a “little mother” to all of them, bathing them, changing their diapers, and helping their own mothers feed them. As the only girl among 6 boys in her family, Danielle wasn’t scared to get rough and dirty, just like her cousins and older brother.
Danielle was a gifted student, who had a deep interest for reading, history, and math, receiving good grades during her grammar school years. Musically inclined, Danielle loved to dance in her basement family room with her closest friends, singing along to her Karaoke machine, and playing the electronic keyboard that was gifted to her.
The driver who caused Danielle’s death pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular homicide, and lost her driver’s license for 15 years. According to court reports, witnesses told police that the driver, a 26 year old woman, was seen using a cell phone when her car drove through a stop sign that hit the tractor-trailer and caused the vehicular chain reaction. “Not a day passes that I don’t shed tears at the loss of Danielle, experience the pain and grief of not having her with us. For a child to die before a parent is simply not the natural order of life,” Danielle’s father John Plourde said, in court.
At the time of her passing, Danielle was in the fifth grade at Flanders Elementary School, and attended St. Dominic Church, was a Girl Scout, and played violin in the school orchestra, enjoyed softball, swimming, and camping. Danielle is survived by her parents, her brother Jonathan, and her grandparents, uncles, and cousins.
Danielle’s mother, Bernice, has joined the “Thumbs Up, Phones Down” campaign this past December in an attempt to eradicate phone usage while driving. “It’s now time to be my daughter’s voice in letting people know to put the phones down,” Bernice said to the Hartford Courant, “Losing a child, as a parent, is one of the hardest things to go through,” Bernice said.
Danielle’s memory lives on in a memorial site dedicated to her by her parents, at In Memory of Danielle Marie Plourde. Donations in Danielle’s honor can be made to the Jonathan Plourde Scholarship Fund, ℅ Webster Bank, 359 Queen Street, Southington, CT, 06489. Take the “Thumbs Up, Phones Down” Pledge in Danielle’s honor.