Tuesday, October 18, 2016

“Missing Moments” Families of teen crash victims share their grief

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Car crashes are a leading cause of death for teens in Utah and across the U.S. In 2015, 25 families were devastated to learn that their teenager had been killed in a motor vehicle crash on Utah roads. Today, they shared their stories to encourage others to drive safely.

Emily Roundy’s 15-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, was a passenger in a single vehicle rollover on May 2, 2015. Kaitlyn was with friends when the driver of the vehicle she was riding in swerved to miss a deer. The vehicle rolled off the road into a riverbed. Kaitlyn was not wearing a seat belt. She was ejected from the truck and killed instantly.

“I miss her walking through the front door, lighting up the entire room with her presence,” said Roundy. “Kaitlyn knew to wear her seat belt, but there was one time she didn’t and she was taken from us. Please protect your precious lives and wear a seat belt. Always.”

Teens have the lowest seat belt usage rate of any age group. In 2015, almost 60 percent of all teens killed on Utah roads were not restrained. “The simple decision to choose to wear your seat belt every time you are in a vehicle can and does save lives,” said Carlos Braceras, executive director with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). “If I could change a single behavior of every Utahn, it would be to make sure they are always buckled up, no matter what.”

This is the ninth year the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and UDOT have collected stories of teens killed in motor vehicle crashes. The book will be used by state and local agencies as a prevention tool to help drivers of all ages realize the impact their decisions have on others. The books will also be distributed to high school driver education classes throughout the state.

David “Buddy” Conner lost his 16-year-old sister, Cadee, in a crash on Mountain View Corridor, just a half mile from home. Cadee was a passenger and as the driver started to cross the intersection, the truck she was riding in was hit by cross traffic causing it to roll. “My sister was my best friend. If I could say one thing to other drivers it would be that you need to be aware of others around you on the road. You need to be aware of your surroundings and always be a defensive driver because just like that, you can flip someone’s whole world around. And for us, we don’t have a rewind button.”

Data from the Utah Highway Safety Office show that in 2015 teen drivers were two times more likely to have a contributing factor, such as failing to yield the right of way or speeding, in a fatal crash than drivers of other ages.

“Teen drivers are at a higher risk of crashing than other drivers often due to inexperience,” said Joseph Miner, UDOH executive director. “Policies such as the Utah Graduated Driver License laws are designed to help new drivers learn driving skills over time and gain the experience needed to become safe drivers. These laws as well as prevention efforts by our state and community partners have saved lives.”

“As a representative of those families with their loved ones in the book, we’re here to speak out. We’re speaking out to help other families get the chance to fathom how unacceptable roadway fatalities are. No one has to die on our roads,” said Conner.

To download a copy of the book Missing Moments: Remembering 10 Lives Lost on Utah Roads, visit www.health.utah.gov/vipp or www.dontdrivestupid.com

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Media Contact:

Jenny Johnson
Violence and Injury Prevention Program
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 801-298-1569