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SUV Crash in Anaheim Takes the Life of 16 Year Old – Inspires Life Changes in Friends

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A one-car crash, in Anaheim, took the life of 16 year-old Patricia Thompson last Saturday when her Toyota 4Runner went out of control; hitting a light pole. Amy Husted and Shelly Bailey, both 18, are recovering from the auto accident that took the life of their friend and left them with physical injuries, scars and a new outlook on life.

Amy and Shelly always loved to spend time with their good friend Patricia Thompson. So, when Patricia called them to have them come along with her to plan a party for some friends coming from Colorado they didn’t give it a second thought. But, when Patricia showed up in her Toyota 4Runner with two other friends there was no real room for Amy and Shelly to sit; they jumped in the far back, Shelly on top of the full laundry basket and Amy on the floor beside her. A mile into the ride the 4Runner suddenly jerked to the right, rolled and hit a pole-ejecting Patricia from the car. An investigation is ongoing as to whether, and which, occupants were wearing seat belts. The toxicology results are not yet available.

Amy remarked from her hospital bed, “I still feel as if she is here. It hasn’t hit me yet. With Patricia gone, I don’t know what is going to happen from now on, but I know I want to do better in my life.” Both Amy and Shelly believe they can teach others from their experiences. Shelly wants to be a teacher and Amy wants to coach gymnastics. I wonder what Patricia wanted to be? Whatever it was it will not happen now…….

What was the cause of this fatal accident? It could have been prevented. Was the driver of the 4Runner driven to distraction?

During the summer of 2005 Toyota presented a free class for teen drivers, rightly called “Distractions Course”. The instructor for this course tells the students up front, “…if you hit them they die…” referring to traffic cones lining the course. Megan Waechter, 15, participated in the program at the suggestion of her father.

With the radio cranked up and someone yelling “put the water down!” Megan attempts to put her bottle in the bottle cup holder while she tries negotiating a curve at 30MPH. Thankfully, she was driving in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl. As she stops her car the instructor tells her she hit a lot of puppies, which makes Megan laugh, but she now knows that it is no laughing matter when teen drivers get distracted.

Megan remarked about how many of her friends drive while talking on their cell phones, radio blaring and friends laughing and talking. Megan says before the “Distractions course I didn’t think much about the dangerous distractions, but now I will.”

Toyota teamed up with Fast Lane Racing School in Willow Springs in developing Driving Expectations, which is a pilot program planned for the general public. Its program puts the focus on the two chief causes of accidents involving teen drivers – inexperience and distractions.

According to the National Safety Council 20% of fatal car crashes are caused by teens.

In Orange County as of January 2006:
Licensed Drivers: 83,253
Teenage Passengers injured/killed car crashes [2005]: 1107 Teenage Drivers injured/killed car crashes [2005]: 1474 Car Crashes involving teen drivers [2005]: 7608.

If you have been injured in an automobile or pedestrian accident, please contact me, John Bisnar of Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys at 1-800-259-6373, for your free consultation.

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