By Matt Vogt
When I was asked to participate in this blog, I knew immediately which experience I would talk about. What I did not know was that the next day I would have a second incident in which to share. And that they would occur 12 years and one month to the day of each other. Two, single-vehicle fatality accident cases that could have been prevented had two people made a different choice. And these two cases also share the fact that people both lived and died in these crashes.
In July 2000, I helped investigate a crash on 69th Street between Seneca and Interurban. Five lives specifically were affected this day: a 14-year-old occupant who had been ejected from the vehicle due to not wearing a seat belt was killed; another occupant that was unconscious and would be in a coma for several weeks due to a severe head injury; and another female occupant who was partially pinned in the vehicle. Two other occupants walked away from the crash with only minor injuries.
In addition to these people, the lives of their families and friends were deeply affected as well because someone lost their life. The choices here are that people did not wear their seatbelts and a vehicle traveling at a speed that was not prudent for the road conditions. Of course at that time, the seat belt laws were not what they are today, but it had been shown how effective they were in saving lives.
My second experience happened just this past August. I responded to another single-vehicle crash in which a driver lost control of his vehicle. He died from his injuries but his passenger survived without any injury. Again, someone again made a choice that not only cost them their own life, but impacted the lives of others. And again there are family and friends that have to grieve over the loss of a loved one.
So the lessons learned in these two cases are simple: Wear your seatbelt and don’t speed. And, please don’t drink and drive. I also ask you to take your thoughts one step further: Think of your friends and loved ones who will have to suffer for that one wrong decision.
Sgt. Matt Vogt serves with the police department in Valley Center