October, 7, 2010 started out like any other day. My daughter Madison was getting ready for school, and I left early for a work meeting in Salt Lake City. My parents were visiting, and Madison’s “Papa” made breakfast for her and kissed her goodbye as she left for her bus stop like she usually did.
At the beginning of my meeting, I was not expecting the flood of calls from family and friends. When they called me out of the meeting, I realized something was terribly wrong. I called my sister, who told me Madison had been hit by a car at the bus stop and was at the hospital with head trauma. I fell apart. I knew it was serious and that we’d be facing life-altering changes or worse. After burying my husband five years ago, I did not want to face the worst.
When I arrived at the hospital, surrounded by family and friends, the police officer on the scene explained what had happened. A 13-year-old girl was running late for school and decided to take the car parked in her driveway and drive herself to and from school without anyone finding out. She had never been behind the wheel of a car before. When she turned onto the street that Madison was standing on, she panicked and hit the gas pedal instead of the brake. She ran straight into Madison, throwing her up onto the windshield and then onto the ground, where the car slammed into a brick retaining wall. The bricks fell on Madison’s head, and she never regained consciousness. She was transferred by Life Flight to Primary Children’s Hospital, where she went into cardiac arrest and died within minutes of arriving.
Our days are not “just like any other day” anymore. We are flooded with reminders that Madison is not here but should be. She always had a smile on her face and tried to include everyone in what she was doing. She loved night games, playing softball, volleyball and basketball, singing and acting on stage, spending time with her family and friends, and was devoted to her church. She was such a happy person and brought joy and life into our lives. Now, there is a huge void that cannot be filled. Thankfully, we rely on our faith and know with a surety that we will be reunited one day, just as she is now reunited with her dad (who also died as a result of a car crash). My heart aches for the loss of my daughter and for the 13-year-old girl who decided to drive the car to school that day. Our lives have been forever changed and so has hers.
Please THINK before you ACT. A car is a powerful machine, and, when not used properly and carefully, it can result in fatal consequences and change the lives of generations. THINK before you text, before you drive intoxicated, before you drive drowsy, before you decide to do something “that no one will find out about,” THINK before you drive. It’s a HUGE responsibility to get behind the wheel of a car and that responsibility should never be taken lightly. Your choice today could either save a life or take one. What will you choose?