Our daughter Cady had a beautiful soul. She was the oldest of our 5 children. From a young age it was apparent she could bond with just about anyone, old or young. She loved her sisters and brother, and she always took time to be a friend to someone who needed it. She valued life and volunteered for causes she thought protected it. We were so proud of her indomitable spirit and the hard work hard she put into everything she did.
On May 30, 2007 Cady and her best friend, Grace, drove to a movie together. Their sophomore school year had ended the week before and they were looking forward to the summer break. Cady was driving Grace home when she approached an intersection two miles from our house in Omaha. She stopped at a red light next to an SUV. As the light turned green, Cady and the SUV moved forward. The woman driving the SUV saw a white Ford Explorer approaching quickly from her left and slammed on her brakes. Cady’s view was shielded by the SUV and as her car passed, the Explorer t-boned Cady’s car at 50 mph.
When we arrived at the hospital, Cady was in a coma and on a ventilator. The doctor said her head trauma was too severe to survive. Our loving daughter who was so full of life with an exciting future planned, died hours later. Miraculously, Grace wasn’t injured in the crash and was released from the hospital early the next morning.
The data recorder on the Ford Explorer revealed the driver never applied the brakes. We met sometime later with the parents and the 16 year old driver to find out what distracted her, but she could not remember much of what took place before the crash. Later we learned she was distracted when she approached the intersection.
Today our life’s work is committed to educating teens about the dangers of distracted driving and ways to eliminate distractions and reduce crash risks. We share our story with teens and parents across the nation in hopes that other families don’t suffer the same tragedy.
These crashes are NOT accidents; they are tragic errors in judgment. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. Each year more than 6,400 people are killed in crashes due to teen drivers. Drivers of all ages need to do what they are supposed to do when operating a vehicle, concentrate on driving and nothing else. These crash statistics are nearly 100% preventable and far outweigh any other cause of teen death in the US – all we need to do is treat it like the epidemic it is.