Christa Lynn Logue, 39, of New Kensington, is charged with driving with a blood alcohol content of .141 percent, well above the legal limit of .08 percent. Ms. Logue was driving her son, Josh Gibson, 14, home from a Millcreek baseball tournament when she lost control of the vehicle, causing it to roll. Young Mr. Gibson was ejected from the vehicle and killed.
Ms. Logue faces several charges, including homicide by vehicle while driving DUI. She is free on $50,000 unsecured bail.
It's easy to focus on the DUI aspect of this case. If true, the tragedy for this family is compounded by the culpability of the mother in her son's death. Even if not true, the story stands as yet one more example of the dangers of drunk driving.
But everyone understands the dangers of drunk driving. What I'm more concerned about is the other problem that is hidden in the details of the reports.
None of the reports I've read say whether Joshua was wearing a seat belt. But the fact that he was thrown from the vehicle suggests strongly that he was not wearing his seat belt or was not wearing it properly. And this is a huge safety problem that too many people ignore.
The most recent surveys suggest that more than a 1/4 of all drivers, 27%, still refuse to wear their seatbelts. In 19 years of handling Pennsylvania car accident injuries I have seen countless fatalities and grotesque injuries that resulted from failure to wear a seat belt and I have never once seen a case where there was serious injury attributed to seat belt use.
From the legal perspective of a Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer, it doesn't matter if you wear your seatbelt. The law is very clear that seat belt use is both irrelevant and inadmissible in a Pennsylvania car accident injury case. Thus, a jury will never know whether or not an injured person was wearing his seatbelt and the insurance companies who will be charged with paying for Mr. Gibson's death will not be able to use his failure to wear a seatbelt against him.
However, there is little doubt that seat belts save lives and prevent terrible injuries. I suspect that a seat belt may have saved Joshua's life, regardless of his mother's conduct. So, take some advice from an Erie car accident lawyer who's seen enough gruesome photos to know. Wear your seatbelts. Teach your kids to wear seatbelts. Make your passengers wear seatbelts.