Seat Belts Save Lives: A Mother’s Story

buckle-up-for-bobby-2-300x200A loud, firm knock on the front door interrupted a rare, quiet moment in the house. It was Sunday morning and I was all alone. The boys had each spent the night with others, and my husband had been called in to deal with an urgent issue at work. I wasn’t expecting anyone and wasn’t really dressed for company, so I ignored the knock, hoping whoever was outside would move along. The doorbell rang, further beckoning me to answer the door. Reluctantly, I did.

A man and a woman, each with a name tag hanging from a lanyard around their necks, stood at the door. I noticed the man had a badge on his belt. They identified themselves as employees of the Sheriff’s Office. I tensed up inside as the male officer asked me for my name, and asked if I had a son named “Robert.” My mind raced with the possible reasons for such a question. What has he done? Is he in trouble? I confirmed that I indeed had a son named Robert (we call him Bobby) and invited them to come in. Once inside, the male officer asked me to take a seat on the couch. I sat down and braced myself for what appeared to be bad news coming my way.

buckle-up-for-bobby-car-300x168The man’s voice softened and his eyes were fixed on mine as he told me that my son and some other teens had been in a motor vehicle crash earlier that morning. Shocked, I listened intently wanting to be sure that I was getting everything he was telling me. Inside, I could feel myself wanting to stand up and head for the door. I thought to myself, “If he’s been in an accident, he needs me! Where is he? Let’s go!” The officer didn’t move. He said, “Your son didn’t make it. He is not coming home. He died at the scene of the crash.”

buckle-up-for-bobby-teen-vigil-300x200I sat there and just looked at him, taking one long, deep breath. I looked away, sinking my forehead into my hands and was quiet for a moment. The first words out of my mouth were these, “If what you are telling me is true, then I know where Bobby is. Bobby is in heaven.” I excused myself and went into my bedroom where I dropped to my knees. I looked to heaven and simply said, “God, you have to help me. I can’t do this alone. I need some of that ‘peace that passes all understanding and I need it now.’” I came out of the room to join the officers again.

I recall asking questions about the others, and learned that the 17-year-old female driver had been killed, and another young man was in serious condition. None of the four occupants were wearing their seat belts. When asked, the officer assured me that alcohol was not the cause of this accident.

They were out driving on a dark, paved road in a private gated community that winds through the foothills just north of Boise. The road was marked with a single, non-reflective yellow line down the center. There were no fog lines on the edge; no barricades or guard rails; no street lights or warning signs for the sharp curves on the road. The female driver had mentioned to the young men that “her car was making a funny noise.” I imagined my son, always playing the hero, telling her “let’s take it for a drive and figure out what ‘s going on.” Two young men, Bobby, and Tiffany crawled into the bright red Hyundai Tiberon. The boys were joking about the tight fit in the back seat. No one buckled up. They drove up the road about 2-3 miles, and turned around to return to the home where they started. Officers estimate the car was going about 46 miles an hour on a 25 mile an hour road. The driver made one sharp turn and was heading for the next one when, as the skid marks showed, she went straight rather than making the turn.

buckle-up-for-bobby-memorial-300x169The car hit a boulder, sending it airborne. As it tumbled over the 100ft embankment, hitting another large boulder as it rolled, the two boys sitting in the back seat were thrown through the back window. The driver’s body was ejected through the sun-roof after reportedly being killed from the impact of her body colliding with the airbag exploding into her chest. The fourth passenger, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, stayed in the car throughout the entire terrifying ordeal. He was able to climb out and eventually call for help.

The shock waves shook our community. A 17-year-old driver and 16-year-old passenger, ejected and killed. A 17-year-old passenger ejected and seriously injured. This was a “survivable crash,” according to law enforcement.

Buckle Up for Bobby was born out of the sincere care and concern Bobby had for others. He made a fatal decision to not buckle up. We honor his life, and Tiffany’s, by raising awareness and advocating for safe seat belt choices through Buckle Up for Bobby. You can make a difference by supporting our work. Connect with us on Facebook, and learn about the college scholarships we sponsor in Bobby’s and Tiffany’s memory.

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Bobby, his siblings, Luke, Matt and Kayla, and his father, Duke.

Article courtesy of Seat Belts Save

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