Traffic Tragedy: Teen Driver Accidentally Kills Her Brother in Crash
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on January 14th, 2012
In one second, a crazy car accident can happen and lives can be changed forever. That’s what any traffic accident can do, but it’s even more tragic when the victim accidentally is killed by a family member.
Sadly, that happened this week in Ormond Beach, Fla., when a 12-year-old boy died in a freak accident as his 18-year-old sister picked him up from his middle school in her pickup truck, according to WKMG TV 6 in Orlando.
The boy, Cameron Brenneman, was getting into his sister’s truck when she pulled away from the curb before he was fully in the vehicle, according to the story. As she drove away, her truck sideswiped another vehicle, causing her to be startled and she apparently depressed the accelerator pedal instead of the brake pedal, the report stated.
Her brother was then ejected from the still-open door and run over by the rear wheels of the truck, police told the TV station. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died from his injuries.
No criminal charges are pending against the teen driver, Ormond Police told the Daytona Beach News-Journal newspaper.
What the horrific incident reminds us, though, is that we as parents need to truly teach our children how important it is to be careful and mindful when operating a motor vehicle when carrying passengers, especially if they are siblings.
The reasons are simple – teen drivers think they are invincible, or that they know all about driving and operating a vehicle, or that bad things will only happen to other people.
Sadly, the statistics just don’t bear that out.
According to statistics from the American Automobile Association (AAA), “car crashes end more teen lives than cancer, homicide and suicide combined.”
“Based on miles driven, teens are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers,” the AAA statistics report.
And even worse, “many of these teens are killed as passengers of other teen drivers,” according to AAA. “Research shows that riding with older siblings, teenage neighbors and siblings of friends increases your child’s risk of being in a crash. Even the best and brightest teens have increased risk of being involved in a deadly crash compared with drivers who have more experience.”
So how can we as parents and concerned citizens do something to prevent similar tragedies?
It all starts with education, according to AAA.
That means talking with our teens, really talking with them, to explain the serious dangers that exist when they take a vehicle onto a roadway while carrying passengers, whether they are friends or siblings.
“Emphasize that driving is risky and should be taken seriously,” the AAA suggests.
Just how important is this?
It’s critical because while it isn’t always apparent, “teens value the opinions of their parents most of all,” according to AAA.
I remember thinking about this very same worry when my teen driver was about to take his sister somewhere in the car for the first time.
I sat our son down and told him a little story.
Years before, a friend in Philadelphia asked her teen-aged son to pick up his younger brother from a school event and bring him home. The friend got worried when the boys still hadn’t returned home after a long time.
When the police arrived at her door and told her that there had been an accident, she rushed to the hospital. That’s when she learned that her younger son had died in a crash when her older son lost control of the car.
That mother had to endure a horrific experience, losing one child in an accident at the hands of her older child. And the older brother will forever have to live with the tragedy that happened that day, with the guilt and sadness and horror that it brought.
I told my son this very tragic story just before he was going to drive his sister somewhere for the first time.
He looked somberly and listened carefully to my words. I told him that I never wanted him to have to experience such anguish so I asked him to be careful and to always keep in mind that the lives of people he knows and loves are his responsibility when passengers are in the car with him. If something ever happened, he’d never get over it, I told him.
It was a good conversation to have with my son, and I later had a similar conversation with my daughter before she picked up friends to drive them somewhere after she started driving.
We really need to talk to our children about the dangers, responsibilities and the consequences of driving with passengers in their cars.
Let’s remind them to be safe and not to take risks.
Let’s remind them to be cognizant of the people who are being carried in their vehicles.
It will make them better, safer and more aware drivers, and it will make us better parents.
Our hearts go out to the family of the teen driver and her 12-year-old brother who were involved in this horrible tragedy in Florida.
May we all learn from this tragedy and be destined not to repeat it.