The Tragic Accident That Changed Jennifer Siebel Newsom's Life Forever

Though Jennifer Siebel Newsom has a vibrant and fulfilling life as the First Partner and wife of California Governor Gavin Newsom, she experienced a childhood tragedy that continues to haunt her. When she was a young girl, she was involved in a freak accident that killed her sister Stacey.

While on a family vacation in Hawaii back in 1981, Jennifer, who was just six years old at the time, was happily riding in a golf cart. It was days before she would turn seven years old. Her eight-year-old sister had been playing behind Jennifer's golf cart, but she hadn't seen Stacey behind the cart, and when it went into reverse, it killed Stacey. 

Stacey was the oldest girl in a family of five sisters, and Jennifer was the second oldest. This tragic day changed Jennifer's life forever and it also caused her to have survivor's guilt for years to come.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom tried to make up for her sister's death

Suffering such a devastating tragedy at such a young age weighed heavily on Jennifer well into her young adulthood. As a teen, Jennifer pushed herself to great lengths to try to be perfect. She put a self-imposed duty on herself and did everything she could to excel in her academic studies, as well as in sports and the arts. "I felt the pressure to be perfect, to make my parents forget, by being two daughters instead of one," she told the Los Angeles Times.

This internal drive resulted in many accomplishments including going to college at Stanford and earning an MBA. She also played on the college soccer team at Stanford and then went on to earn a spot on the U.S. Soccer's youth team.

"I'm sure there was survivor's guilt, and I'm sure, in my subconscious, it's like I have to make up for that loss," she said. "I have to do something to improve other people's lives or have an impact, double my own, which is a little crazy."

The First Partner of California is still learning to forgive herself

According to Medical News Today, survivors' guilt is a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most people who suffer from survivor's guilt can recover within the first year, even without treatment. Yet, about one-third of people experience it for 3 years or more. Since Jennifer Siebel Newsom was just a young child when the trauma happened, it has taken years to come to terms with it.

Though Jennifer Siebel Newsom is an adult now, as well as a successful businesswoman and a mother of four, the tragedy of her sister's death still weighs heavily on her. She says she only just realized now how unknowing she was at that age. Watching her youngest son, Dutch, turn six helped her put things into perspective.

"I realized that I'm really hard on myself," said Jennifer ( via Los Angeles Times). "I realized that you can't blame a 6- or 7-year-old. You can't ask them to understand things."