Losing a child is the most devastating thing a parent can experience. Trucker Dee Sova, of Sacramento, California, faced that grief when her daughter Sharmelia Jeffries was killed by a drunk driver in front of her high school in 2003.
Over the next 10 years, Sova channeled that grief into action by becoming a member and speaker for the founding chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), an advocacy group dedicated to ending drunk driving. The driver who killed her daughter was sentenced to 13 years in prison but ended up serving about 5 1/2 years.
“I had to find a way to have an outlet for my grief so when I came to their first support group they asked me if I wanted to be a speaker because I seemed to be able to explain myself pretty well,” Sova said.
She traveled throughout northern California telling high school students about Sharmelia and served on the board of directors for the Sacramento chapter as secretary and the president from 2005-2007.
“I had some really good experiences with that and it helped me to grow stronger after losing her,” Sova said.
Having that support group also helped Sova, who started trucking when she was 24 years old, stay focused as a local driver. It meant a lot to her to be able to lean on other parents who had gone through that tragedy as well. That support was everything, she says.
“You have somebody that you can network with if you just need to call somebody and cry,” Sova said. “It helped me be able to move forward with my life.”
Sova says she will always be involved with MADD, but stepped back from her speaking roles in 2013 when she became an over the road driver. It was 10 years to the day of her daughter’s death that she started over the road. She says she realizes now that she was grieving for those 10 years.
“I think it had served its purpose for me. I realize now that I was actually grieving that whole 10 years and that’s why I did it for so long,” Sova says of her time as a speaker for MADD. “It can be stressful to relive the loss of your child over and over again, when you go to the high schools that what you’re doing is telling these kids how your child was killed. But it was an outlet.”
Sova is a lease driver with Prime. She writes on her Facebook page, “Trucking Divas Rock – The BlogAZine.” She wants to support other women in the industry.
She also previously ran a YouTube channel called “Trucking Divas Rock.”
Sova was recently recognized for her efforts to support other women truckers by the Real Women in Trucking Association with their Queen of the Road award.
“Dee has been able to turn her difficult life experiences into triumph and now mentors, teaches, and encourages others to do the same,” the association said of Sova. “She has devoted herself to care for women coming into the industry, coaching them along, to push themselves through the trials of life through faith and integrity.”