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Published March 15, 2011, 10:19 AM

Parents share tragic story at Youth Health Day in Otter Tail County

Otter Tail County is marking its 23rd annual Youth Health Day today with a dramatic and tragic story. The most dramatic part of Health Day today: A Minnesota family sharing their tragedy. The Backstrom family lost 3 sons to a drunk driver.

Fergus Falls, Minn. (WDAY TV) - Otter Tail County is marking its 23rd annual Youth Health Day today with a dramatic and tragic story. More than 500 ninth graders from Otter Tail County were at Life Church in Fergus Falls today to listen to a variety of speakers on health topics. Topics included drinking and driving, cyber-bullying and sex.

MARY MATTESON - Community Education Director, Fergus Falls: “What we want to do today is get the message out to kids on healthy lifestyles and our message today was Friends Don't Let Friends Drink.”

The most dramatic part of Health Day today: A Minnesota family sharing their tragedy. The Backstrom family lost 3 sons to a drunk driver.

CONNIE BACKSTROM - Mother: "I look outside again and in my driveway there are two squad cars from Dakota County Sheriffs Department and I know instantly that someone is dead.”

It wasn't just someone. It was three of her five sons. On October 10, 2004, Matthew, Jacob, and Justin Backstrom died after a drunk-driver hit them head on. It was over in an instant. Their car was unrecognizable.

NATHAN BACKSTROM - Father: “It was like a ton of bricks slammed into my chest and I remember laying my phone down and crying out in. I didn't know if I could continue driving, or for that matter, if I could continue to live.”

The Backstrom's, with two sons still at home, decided to take all their grief and use it to change the lives of others. The clothes their sons wore the day they died now sit draped over three empty chairs. Blood stains fading after seven years and more than 200 presentations throughout the country.

Connie: “We hope we touch kids hearts, and the adults too, enough so that they say, I don't want this to happen to my family.”

Nathan: “And as we looked at their broken and battered bodies, it was painfully aware to us that it was just a shell of the boys we had known.”

Today they presented their tragedy to the eyes and ears of 500 ninth graders in Otter Tail County, hoping to make a difference in the life of just one person.

JENNA NYGAARD - Henning, 9th Grader: Yeah it definitely will, I lost a friend to a drunk driver and this just made me think of it.”

CODY GREENWOOD - Henning, 9th Grader: “That it can make such an impact on your life and change your life in a split second; it's overall just not a good idea.”

Connie: “Here's the story of three sober brothers who were wearing their seatbelts, driving responsibly. There was nothing else they can do except not be there.”

The driver who hit the Backstrom's vehicle was released from prison on September 1st.

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