When a joyous moment turns tragic, the inevitable questions almost always start and end with "Why?"
In November 2015, a 40-year-old bride died in a motorcycle crash on the way to her wedding reception. Jana Miles-Burnett and William Burnett, 31, said "I do" on a Saturday evening in a park in downstate Illinois. The two elected to ride on William's motorcycle at the back of a biker procession headed to the reception.
deer ran onto the rural road and into the newlyweds' lane, according to Inside Edition. Despite William's best efforts, he could not avoid a collision. Jana was pronounced dead at a hospital about an hour later; her husband suffered only minor injuries.
We are our own Worst Enemies
When it comes to human casualties, no one can supply all the answers. In some cases, counting those casualties and looking at data helps make sense of tragedy. Nobody wants to be remembered as a statistic, but maybe these statistics will help people be more aware in their day-to-day lives. According to National Safety Council research:
- Unintentional injuries are the #1 cause of death among people ages 1 to 44
- Motor vehicle crashes and drowning consistently rank as top causes of unintentional death in this age group
- Males 35-44 are nearly three times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than females
- 97% to 99% of injuries are caused by our own errors and mistakes
Of all registered vehicles in the U.S. in 2012, 3% were motorcycles, according to
Injury Facts, a statistical report on unintentional injuries and deaths published by NSC. Of all the vehicle miles traveled, .7% percent were logged by motorcyclists. Yet, motorcyclists accounted for 15% of all traffic fatalities, 18% of all occupant fatalities and 4% of all occupant injuries.
Riders wearing the proper gear and
heeding a few simple safety tips can reduce risks:
- Helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries for operators and 41% for passengers
- Helmets saved an estimated 1,690 lives in 2012 and an additional 781 lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists wore helmets
- Choose a bike that fits you;
"Supersport bikes" have driver death rates about four times that of cruisers or standard bikes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
- Watch for hazards like potholes, manhole covers, oil slicks, puddles, debris, railroad tracks and gravel
Toddler Pulled from Icy Creek Survives
About 10 people die every day from
unintentional drowning, and two of those are children 14 and younger. According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency care for non-fatal submersion injuries.
The March 2015 case involving a Pennsylvania toddler was in that near-miss category.
Gardell Martin suffered virtually no lingering effects after being pulled from an icy creek and
revived during 101 minutes of CPR, according to a CBS News report. He was 22 months old when he fell into the creek that runs through his family's property near Mifflinburg, PA.
"It's not only extraordinarily rare that we got the child back, but what's even more extraordinary is the rate at which he recovered and the completeness of his recovery," said Dr. Frank Maffei.
Maffei was director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Geisinger's Janet Weis Children's Hospital in Danville, PA, at the time of the incident.
"The stars and moon aligned and he had an angel on his shoulder," he said.
Drowning is the
leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 4 and is the second-leading cause of death for children 5-14, according to NSC research. Drowning deaths among children are primarily due to a child falling into a pool or being left alone in a bathtub.
About 25% of all emergency room visits can be avoided with
basic first-aid and CPR certification, and parents are advised to be within arm's reach of small children when they are bathing, swimming or around water.
Drug Overdose: Mother's Aim is to Spare Others
"When you are addicted, you hurt the people you love the most," Cory Palazzi said.
Palazzi, a National Honor Society student with a scholarship to play baseball at University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth, ended up permanently disabled after a drug overdose. A shoulder injury sent him to the sidelines and ultimately into a state of depression. He started taking the opioid medication prescribed for his shoulder pain to relieve his emotional pain, too.
He eventually turned to heroin, overdosed and suffered brain damage. He is legally blind, and his mother, Lori Palazzi Gonsalves, administers his care and
shares her family's experience in hopes of helping save other people's lives.
Prescription drug overdose is the leading cause of poisoning deaths, far surpassing incidents involving chemicals, gases or other substances, according to NSC. Parents need to reject the "not my child" mantra:
- Every day, 52 people die from opioid pain medications
- 4% to 6% percent of prescription pain killer abusers will transition to heroin
- In the 25- to 34-year-old bracket, men are about 2.5 times more likely to die from poisoning – including drug poisoning – than women (5,429 to 2,223)
- 70% of people who have abused prescription painkillers reported getting them from friends or relatives
"Never in a million years did I think addiction could creep into my son's world," Lori said. "I had raised him better. He knew better. In my brain, this was something I never even thought about. What kind of make-believe world did I live in?"