Thursday morning, law enforcement, community members, and the SAFE Delaware Coalition gathered at the Delaware Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol on U.S. Route 23 to add four wreaths to the annual display signifying the number of young people killed in the county in traffic accidents over the past 10 years.
SAFE Delaware County Coalition Coordinator Jackie Bain spoke at the event, which she said began in 2012 as a way to honor the young victims of fatal crashes and raise awareness around the holidays. During the event, family members and community members pinned the names of each young person to a corresponding wreath.
“Their names are important,” Bain said. “They’re not just statistics that we look at or numbers on a chart. They are individual lives that are represented, and all the lives of the people who love them who are missing them now. It doesn’t matter who caused the crash or why, if there was guilt or not. That’s not the point. The point is that they all were loved and they are missed.”
Bain said 20 young people have been killed in fatal crashes in the county over the past 10 years, and the ceremony provided the opportunity to remember four more juveniles who were killed in crashes this year: Buckeye Valley students Jacob Richardson, 16, and Mykaela Fellure, 15, who were killed in a crash on Jan. 24; Thaddeus Laurol, 17, a Franklin County teen who was killed on Feb. 9, and Cody Segner, 17, a Big Walnut teen who was killed on Sept. 28.
“The greatest number of people being killed in crashes are high school-aged children,” Bain said. “We have a problem, and it’s not getting better. Today, we are doing something about it. I think you’ll all agree that a traffic crash is one of the cruelest deaths there is. It hits almost randomly without justification, unexpectedly, with no apparent warnings, and it horrifically snatches bright, beautiful promising lives from the family and friends that were part of their future.”
Bain said Delaware County’s juvenile court system has backed the SAFE Delaware Coalition’s push for helping teen drivers learn from their mistakes and be safer drivers. She said the coalition is bent on “informing and engaging other parents about what they can do to make their students safer.”
Bain added that the superintendent of all the Delaware County School districts have signed on to promote driver safety awareness using an upcoming web portal for students.
“Delaware County is no longer going to stand by and let their children be killed, because they are making simple mistakes as new drivers,” Bain said. “We are going to give them and their parents all the support we can. I’m humbled by the ability by so many of these family and friends who have been affected by these tragedies to transform their grief into the strength to drive a change to the benefit of other people’s children.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.