The emotional impact of losing a child in an accident is addressed.
|It’s very difficult and scary for a parent to think of the day their teenager turns 16 and ventures into the world behind of power of that killer monster, the automobile. It’s even scarier to think of everything that could go wrong behind that huge hunk of metal, and your loved one may not even be the one driving. The most important thing we can do as parents is stress the importance of seat belts and how they can save a life. Think it isn’t true? Read this recollection here and decide for yourselves.
The day before Memorial Day Mindy went out with some friends, two males and an eighteen-year old female friend. The driver of the vehicle decided to make a stop and left the keys in the truck so Mindy and her friend could listen to the radio. Later the girls decided to jump in the front seat with Mindy at the wheel. What happened after that became the worst nightmare a parent could ever want to hear. Unlicensed and inexperienced, Mindy hit a curb causing the SUV to overturn. Mindy was thrown from the vehicle against the corner of a brick garage wall sustaining massive head injuries.
I worked part-time at a pharmacy where Mindy’s mother was one of the supervisors. The initial reports were that she had suffered massive head injuries and was in a medically induced coma in order to keep the pressure off her brain. She was being monitored constantly and was hooked up to an EEG to monitor brain activity. Though I am not a medical person and don’t understand the reality of it, severity of the injury is based on some number formula, and if that number exceeds 30, the patient doesn’t stand a chance of survival. These numbers apparently determine the extent of damage that has been done and show doctors if the patient has any chance of survival. For several days Mindy went as high as 27 and as low as 2, but by the end of the week surgery was performed to remove a portion of her brain that the surgeon told her parents she would probably never use. Surgery was successful, they were told, and the prognosis was good immediately following surgery. By Monday of the following week, she had developed pneumonia, and shortly thereafter the family was told to get everyone to the hospital, she had had hours to live! One of the first questions all of us who knew and worked with her mother have asked is why the eighteen-year old friend – who, by the way, had her license – was not the one driving. Let us assume that Mindy just wanted to be a big shot – why didn’t the friend, who had her seat belt on and was treated and released at the hospital, encourage Mindy to wear her seat belt? Then again, we may be looking at a sixteen year old who thought she was invincible and believed nothing bad would happen to her. This is a tragedy that should never have taken place, or at least should have had a much happier ending. As you think of that, let me give you some insight into how this tragedy could have been different.
·The male friends could have taken the keys with them when they got out of the car and removed all temptation for the female passengers to take the truck for a joyride.
·The friend with the driver’s license could have insisted on being the one to drive.
·The friend could have encouraged Mindy to use her seat belt, or even have reached over and forcibly buckled her up.
In spite of the outcome of this tragedy, the extent of injuries could have been less severe if the use of seat belts had been implemented. “Why is that?” some of you might ask. “She had massive head injuries”, but that is the point here. Had she been buckled up, she would NOT have been ejected from the vehicle to be slammed against the brick garage. Surely she would have suffered some injuries from the vehicle overturning, but statistics will confirm that it is rare for a person who is buckled up to die as the result of an accident.
Parents, talk to your children and set an example. Do not put that car or truck into park unless you and everyone with you are buckled up. Don’t be a statistic, and don’t leave your loved ones to mourn your death as Mindy’s family and friends are doing. Donations have been made and a memorial fund set up to help this family though some of the financial burden, but no amount of money is going to bring their daughter back to them. Only time is going to heal this family, and my heart goes out to them in this sad time in their lives. I beseech every single one of you reading these words to think of Mindy the next time you drive away without your seat belt on, or the next time you allow someone to ride in your car without being buckled up. Remember, over 50% of accidents happen less than a mile from your home so don’t use the excuse that you’re only going to the corner store.