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Tragic Fatality Highlights Importance of Seatbelts

Tammy and I were out of town last week but received a call from family members advising us of the tragic death of young Carli Cummings. I didn't know Carli or her family but those who did report that she was a sweet and popular young woman who, despite her young age, had already had a profound positive impact on those around her. Judging by the facebook profile and commentary , it seems there are many who knew and loved Carli.

It is profoundly sad that such a fine young woman has been lost. Only in my worst nightmares do I begin to approach an understanding of what her family is enduring.

The media reports about this incident suggest that the teenage driver was speeding at the time of the accident. But there has been no report that I have seen that suggests that the teens were drinking or engaging in wildly irresponsible behavior. On the contrary, it appears they were headed to a popular swimming spot off Mystic Road in Mill Village on a hot summer day.

By report, the accident occurred when the teen driver took a turn too fast and rolled the vehicle. None of the teens in the car were seat belted but only Carli was ejected from the vehicle. The other teens were not hurt seriously.

Perhaps there is more to the story but I suspect this may be a case of an inexperienced driver taking a risk that he did not understand. Such risk taking is perhaps inevitable for most young drivers. Inevitable, too, is that some of those risks will end tragically.

I've seen far too many cases like this one. I've sat in depositions years after such an event and watched parents struggle with memories that are still fresh and painful for them. I've seen fathers weep and mothers with thousand yard stares.
I cannot express enough how much I wish that I would never again see or learn of another such senseless loss.

There is no silver lining in this tragedy. There is no upside. But parents absolutely must talk to their teenagers about this accident and part of the discussion must focus on seatbelt use. It is appropriate to speak of driving, too. But all of our children will be passengers as well as drivers. And once in the vehicle, passengers can protect themselves only with seatbelts. Please do not let this lesson be lost.


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