“I paid my dues to society, made water beds from the tears that was shed. Left my babies and hurt others, pain. Two years lost but not my sanity, gain. My life is not over so I have to move forward, forgive myself, continue with my dreams…”
These were the words of Letoya Palmo at an event Thursday to celebrate and promote her book, “Driven to Survive”.
Palmo was involved in a 2020 case that made local headlines and highlighted the dangers and consequences of distracted driving.
On July 11, 2019, a vehicle she was driving struck a wagon with two young children—ages 2 years and 10 months.
Palmo, 29 at the time—with her two children in the back seat—was driving on Lyell Avenue in Gates and was on her phone and taking a photo of a "for rent" sign, when she lost control of her vehicle. Authorities say she struck the two children on the sidewalk and dragged them 50 feet.
The children miraculously survived the incident but were severely hurt. The 10-month-old boy suffered a "serious skull fracture requiring surgical repair" and fractured ribs; while the 2-year-old girl suffered a bruised liver, adrenal glands, lungs, pancreas, and a spine fracture.
Palmo eventually pleaded guilty to 2 felony counts of second-degree assault and 8 misdemeanor counts including reckless endangerment and acting in a manner injurious to a child.
She spent two years in state prison.
Palmo has since emerged and has embarked on a mission of redemption, forgiveness, resilience, and self-discovery.
CaTyra Polland is the founder of 'Love for Words; Ebony Nicole Smith is a publisher and co-founder of the Rochester Black Authors Association and Rashad Smith is a local publicist and mass media consultant. The three hosted a reception at Writer's Paradise, Thursday, to show support for Palmo and celebrate the release of her new book.
"I humbly support Letoya on her journey towards self-discovery and complete redemption," Polland said. "To be a writer for redemption means to harness the transformative power of storytelling to inspire hope, healing, and personal growth. It is about using words to navigate and explore the complexities of human experiences, offering redemption and catharsis to both the writer and the reader.”
The group will be hosting their next event—Saturday, July 15 (11 AM - 2 PM) at Writers and Books, 740 University Ave.—to highlight Palmo’s work and that of other Black writers.
Palmo says she wants to share about her experiences, the lessons learned, and her ongoing commitment to personal growth.
"I'm actively working to forgive myself, support others struggling with forgiveness, and enlighten the community about my (personal) redemption process."
Tickets for the July 15th event can be purchased here