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A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

Valerie Frances Morin, our daughter, was born June 10, 1983, one of the happiest days of our lives. Val was the second of four children, an outgoing student who played multiple sports, was musically talented and had just landed her first part-time job. She was killed by one of her own classmates while riding in his car.
June 15,1999, changed our lives forever. That morning we mailed Val’s request for a driver’s road test to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Val had just turned sixteen. We knew about the then pending law that restricts a newly licensed driver from carrying passengers for the first 90 days. We thought it made sense. We didn’t know then that it could have saved our daughter’s life.
It was 3:30 p.m. We had gotten numerous calls from her friends questioning where Val was. My wife, Pearl, became concerned and learned about a serious car crash. She called the police department and learned there had been a crash resulting in a fatality. A girl with no identification did not survive and had been transported to a funeral home.
I can’t describe our feelings as we drove to the funeral home. It’s the sickest feeling on earth to drive to a funeral home, hoping everything that is happening is only a huge misunderstanding, that it’s not your daughter.
Unfortunately for us it was not to be. We lost our Valerie. Suffering immense agony, we buried our daughter, and for the next year went through the court system as the driver went on trial.
Val lost her life because she was riding in a car with 17-year-old classmate, who had only been licensed for 44 days, who made driving decisions that took our daughter’s life.
As time passed, we learned more about the crash. Two boys and Val had left a friend’s house to pick up a third boy and then they were going to another house to get notes for their last exam of the year.
The driver was weaving from one side of the road to the other. He proceeded to pass a vehicle across a double line in front of a railroad crossing. A witness estimated his speed at 80 mph. The driver then took a left onto another road in the wrong lane. The witness followed on and came upon what she feared would happen.

The driver lost control of the car as it crested a hill. The car spun, and traveled backward 50 yards, stopping when the rear hit a tree. The force was so horrific it pushed the back of the car in 4 1/2 ft.
Valerie was trapped inside and dying. A respiratory therapist arrived on the scene and did all he could to save our Val.
He couldn’t give proper CPR because he needed the Jaws of Life to remove Val from the car. But for Val the Jaws of Life arrived too late. We learned Val, and the two teens with her, had pleaded with the driver to slow down, only to be told, “Shut Up! I know what I’m doing.”
In a desperate attempt to get the driver to slow down, right before the crash, Val shook his seat and pleaded with him to stop and let her out. But he ignored her plea, as he sped on in his mad rush to kill.
These are the facts: 88 mph in a 45 mph zone, swerving the vehicle recklessly into the oncoming lane of traffic, illegal passing, illegal use of traffic lanes, multiple teens, over confidence, it won’t happen to me, and he lost control. Just a mere three miles, the speed limit no more than 45 mph. All he had to do was slow down and obey the rules of the road!
During the juvenile trial, the judge found the driver guilty of vehicular manslaughter and sentenced him to 30 days, with 200 hours of community service. The Secretary of State added a 5-year license revocation.
For us, her parents and family, it was a very light sentence, for we had just lost a daughter and sister, who had pleaded for her life.
Don’t allow your child to ride with anyone who has not been licensed for at least 90 days, if not longer. The law is there, but it’s our responsibility to protect our children.

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