Teen talks about accident
On Jan. 6, 1997 I was involved in a car accident. I was driving down Genoa Lane at approximately 80 mph with seven other people in my car. I was driving that fast not thinking what could happen. I soon realized that I did not have control over the car that I thought I did. I slammed on my brakes, but it wasn’t enough. I then slid into a utility pole. The next day is when my Mom told me that one of my passengers had died, 17-year-old Erin Hackman.
My Mom thought it would be a good idea for me to go stay with my aunt and uncle in California for awhile. So I went down to Ventura for a couple weeks. When I came back, I made the decision to return to school when the new semester started. I was a little scared because I didn’t know how people would react to me. Most were very nice, but there were those who just didn’t say anything. Time went by and I started getting back into the routine of things.
In October I went to court. I was charged with consuming alcohol, reckless driving causing substantial bodily harm, and reckless driving causing death. Two weeks later I was sentenced to 400 hours of community service, 2,000-word essay, $3,500 fine, Aspen program, wilderness program, House arrest until Dec. 31, 1996, victims’ impact panel driver’s education, DUI school, and my license is suspended for two years.
I started my community service at the East Fork Paramedic Station, where I met the crew that helped me the night of the accident. I later spoke at two Parent Symposiums, one at Whittell High School, and one at Douglas High School. In my speech I addressed the importance of parents finding out what their children are doing and if they are really doing what they said they were. I also stated that teen-agers are the best liars, however, they are not all liars. After speaking, parents came up to me and hugged me for telling my story. They told me that they had children my age and Erin’s age and what a reality check it was to hear my story. Telling my experience at those symposiums lifted a little weight off my shoulders. I felt that more or less people had the idea of what happened and what could happen. I also plan on speaking at Carson High School for their Students Against Drunk Driving assembly and up at Whittell High School, this time for the students, not the parents. I have also attended DUI school, where I learned a lot about blood alcohol content and the dangers of mixing alcohol and driving. I went to the Victims’ Impact Panel where I heard many different stories from victims of drunk driving and how it has impacted their lives.
This tragedy in my life got my Mom and I thinking about how easy it is to get into a car accident. So, my Mom went to writing. We are now working with Assembly woman Barbara Cegavske, on two bills. One states that all minors under the age of 18, must keep and use their driver’s permit for a full six months before obtaining their license. The second is that all minors must have a driver’s education course before obtaining their license and/or graduating from high school. If I would have learned defensive driving and more about a vehicle’s handling, I believe my accident would have never occurred. Some teen-ager dies each year from Douglas High School in a car accident that could have been prevented. Four of my own classmates in the past three years have been killed in car accidents and the driver of each car had no driver’s education experience. I believe if these two bills pass it will help prevent the yearly Douglas High death.
I have learned that life is a precious item and you cannot waste it. We were all put here for a reason; mine was to educate people on the importance of driver’s safety, education, and behind the wheel experience. If every person went through what I have gone through, what the Hackmans have gone through, what my parents have gone through, and everybody close to the families and people involved have gone through, we would have pretty close to perfect drivers on the road today.